Imports rose by 22 percent in 2014, while exports dropped by 12 percent, the Maldives Customs Service has revealed.
According to a statement from customs today, imported goods in 2014 amounted to MVR30.7 billion (US$1.99 billion), resulting in duties of MVR1.96 billion – a 15 percent rise compared to 2013.
The decline in exports saw the total value of goods leaving the Maldives in 2014 valued at MVR2.24 billion, compared with MVR2.56 billion in 2013.
The latest balance of payments figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority show the current account deficit was US$290 million in 2014 – equivalent to 10 percent of GDP, though the central bank estimates that this will drop to 6 percent of GDP in 2015.
Recent amendments to the Import Export Act – part of a raft of revenue raising measures – are expected to raise MVR533 million (US$34.5 million) in additional income in 2015.
Customs revealed today that petroleum products had contributed the most to last year’s imports, totaling MVR8.3 billion – or 27 percent of the total. Food items comprised 19 percent of the year’s imports while 16 percent was machinery and electronic items, totalling to MVR6 billion and MVR4.8 billion respectively.
The customs third quarterly review for 2014 suggested that the rise in machinery and electronics was largely responsible for the period being the most costly in terms of imports in the past five years.
It was also noted that 65 percent of the goods imported during quarter were sourced the UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka. These countries made up 62 percent of total imports in 2013.
The export of tuna products to Thailand dominates the Maldives’ exports – constituting 44 percent in the quarter, having received 37 percent of exports in 2013.
An IMF delegation to the Maldives late last year noted that, though the economy is “relatively buoyant”, the widening fiscal deficit as a result of high public expenditure and debt needed to be addressed.
Revisions to estimates of the current account deficit had indicated greater stability in the economy than previously thought, explained the IMF. Previous MMA estimates of the 2014 trade gap suggested it could equal 22 percent of GDP.
During the IMF’s last visit to the country in February this year, the delegation expressed surprise at the resilience of the economy, admitting that it was still studying how the domestic economy has remained afloat in the face of soaring public debt and persistent budget deficits.
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