Guyana’s External Sector Continues On The Path Of Significant Growth For 2015

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Even in the face of global economic constraints, Guyana’s external sector has yet again demonstrated overall growth and resilience.
In fact, the country’s Minister of Finance, the Honourable Winston Jordan, has disclosed that Guyana’s exports for the first half of 2015 totalled US$536.1 million. For him, this represents significant growth, year after year.
In providing a breakdown for the various revenue earners, Jordan said that rice exports increased to US$125.7 million, a growth of 31.4 percent, over the same period in 2014. This largely reflected rice shipment to the Venezuelan market. Jordan said that this significant increase in export earnings of that commodity (rice) was mainly the result of a 48.9 percent increase in the quantity exported. He asserted that the rice industry continued to record exceptional growth.
It was also noted by his Ministry that rice production in the first half of 2015 was 359,960 tonnes, 15.3 percent increase from last year’s first-half production of 312,283 tonnes. In light of that performance, the end of year output and growth projections have been revised upwards to 703,462 tonnes. This is equivalent to 10.7 percent more than the 2014 record production level.
The Finance Minister said too that the phenomenal growth in the production of rice is unmatched by the growth in the diversification of the export market as well as the absence of value-added products.
He added that the Government has provided generous support to the rice industry, with $9 billion being transferred to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) by June 2015. Jordan noted that the loss of the Venezuelan market, which was obtained under the PetroCaribe Rice Trade Agreement, has heightened uncertainty within the industry and pressure has been mounting to find new markets. The Finance Minister noted, however, that the Government is committed to assisting the farmers to find alternative markets and will support private sector initiatives to secure the future of the industry.
Meanwhile, production of the other crops subsector rose by five percent over the half year output for 2014. This was as a result of the ongoing support given to the subsector. It is projected to grow by two percent by the end of 2015.
As for the forestry sector, statistics show that timber exports expanded by 10.4 percent reaching US$23.5 million. This was due to an increase in the export of processed timber from jungle stock.
Other exports, including re-exports, earned US$115 million – an increase of 28.2 percent. This was as a result of increased export values for fish and shrimp, wood products, re-exports, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, molasses, inter alia.
On the other hand, sugar exports totalled US$30.4 million in the first half of 2015. This represented a reduction of 11.8 percent compared to the same period in 2014 and was the result of a fall in sugar prices which more than offset the increase of 10.5 percent in the quantity exported.
Export earnings from bauxite totaled US$53.3 million in the first half of 2015, a decline of 20.4 percent, compared to the same period in 2014. This reflected an 18.9 percent decline in export volume as well as lower export prices.
Similarly, in gold export earnings, which totaled US$188.3 million in the first half of 2015, there was a 16.9 percent contraction year-on-year. The average price received by gold miners fell from US$1,243 per ounce in 2014 to US$1,164 per ounce in 2015. These prices were generally lower than the world market prices.
Merchandise imports fell by 8.8 percent to US$772.8 million in the first half of 2015 year-on-year, principally reflecting a contraction in imports of intermediate goods by 18.7 percent to US$393.7 million.
On the other hand, imports of capital goods increased by 8.6 percent to US$186.7 million while imports of consumer goods increased by less than one percent to US$188.4 million.

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