February 2, 2017 / 7:29 AM / 3 years ago

Tanzania current account deficit narrows 56.6 pct in year to Nov

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania’s current account deficit narrowed 56.6 percent in the year to November, helped by a surge in earnings from tourism and gold exports and a decline in imports, its central bank said on Thursday.

A crane arranges containers at the Port of Zanzibar on the island of Zanzibar July 19, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The gap narrowed to $1.95 billion in the 12 months to November from $4.49 billion in the same period in 2015, the Bank of Tanzania said in its latest monthly economic report.

    The bank said overall balance of payments swung into a surplus of $246.6 million from a deficit of $95.2 million in the year ending November 2015.

    Imports of goods and services fell 15.8 percent to $10.257 billion due to a decline in capital and consumer goods purchases, while total exports rose to $9.426 billion from $8.855 billion previously, the bank said.

Oil, which dominates the goods import bill, went up by 7.8 percent to $3.08 billion due to an increase in demand.

Earnings from tourism, the main foreign exchange source, rose to $2.21 billion from $2.01 billion previously, buoyed by more visitor arrivals.

    Gold, the other main source of foreign income, brought in $1.44 billion, up from $1.17 billion previously, reflecting higher export volumes and global prices.

    Tanzania, which has a population of around 50 million, is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer after South Africa, Ghana and Mali.

The value of traditional exports rose by 21.2 percent to $943.3 million, driven by increased output and higher prices of tobacco, cashew nuts, cotton and tea.

    Gross official foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank reached $4.25 billion in the year to November, or about four months of import cover.

Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala

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