Trade data for November and for January-November 2015

December 15, 2015

Bottom line: The November trade data reflect the same trends that have been at work throughout the year — but also point to an improvement in exports, which is concentrated in the high-tech sector. Imports were generally weak, but the declines still concentrated in fuels and raw materials, but spreading to investment goods.

  • The overall November trade deficit, denominated in US dollars, was a very low $392mn and, after excluding trade in ships, aircraft, diamonds and fuels, showed another small surplus (of $34mn, the fifth monthly surplus this year).
  • The trend data show exports beginning to expand again in the last three months, with an increase of 0.5% in November, while imports have declined for the past two months (0.3% in November).
  • The strength of exports is concentrated in the high-tech sectors, which have been recovering throughout 2015 and where the pace of increase has been 0.6% per month for the past three months.
  • Although the decline in imports is concentrated in fuels — down almost $5bn year-to-date — weakness is becoming more widely apparent.
  • Imports of investment goods, which were rising strongly in the spring and summer, are now hardly growing at all.
  • Consumer goods imports are the main growth area within imports, buoyed by continued strong demand for cars and other durable goods.
  • Diamond imports have finally begun to rebound in the last few months, but are still far below levels seen in 2013-14.

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