Algeria’s trade balance swings to $341mn deficit in January-February on falling exports

By bne IntelliNews March 22, 2015

Shrinking exports, mainly of hydrocarbons, continue to constrain Algeria’s foreign trade parameters with the overall balance recording a $341mn deficit in the first two months of 2015, swinging from a $1.71bn the year before, the state APS news agency reported, citing the National Centre for Informatics and Statistics. In January, the trade balance reported a $483mn surplus, meaning Algeria’s trade balance worsened sharply in February. The pattern will continue in H1 2015, weighing further on Algeria’s current account balance and budget proceeds.

Exports dropped 28.6% y/y (down 11.1% y/y in January) to $7.72bn in the first two months of the year while imports fell 11.4% y/y to $8.06bn.

Hydrocarbon exports shrank by a worrying 30.3% y/y to $7.24bn at end-February, accounting for 94% of total exports on declining crude oil prices.

Falling energy income will cut Algeria’s ability to cope with rising spending needs in 2015 despite the ample buffer accumulated in recent years.

Earlier in March, central bank governor Mohammed Laksaci said that Algeria’s trade surplus plunged to just $590mn in 2014 from $9.73bn the year before, in the lowest reading since 1998. Total exports reached $60.04bn last year while imports totalled $59.44bn, according to Laksaci. 

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