THE overall balance of payments showed a narrowing of deficit to 143.6 million US dollars during the quarter ended March from 320.4 million US dollars in the corresponding quarter in 2019 due to improvement of current ac- count balance.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Economic Bulletin for the quarter ending March current account balance improved to a deficit of 156.0 million US dollars compared with 278.4 million US dollars recorded in the quarter ending March 2019, largely driven by increase in exports.
During the reference period, the external sector of the economy has experienced challenges, particularly on travel receipts in- cluding tourism due to measures adopted to limit the spread of Covid-19 in many countries.
The exports of goods rose by 16.3 percent to 1,444.6 million US dollars from the correspond- ing quarter in 2019 on account of traditional exports that went up to 317.8 million US dollars from 135.1 million US dollars in the quarter ending March 2019, largely on account of increase in exportation of cashew nuts. Nontraditional exports re- mained broadly unchanged at 995.5 million US dollars with gold accounting for 61.0 percent of non-traditional exports.
Similarly, goods import increased to 2,085.2 million US dollars during the quarter ending March from 1,989.2 million US dollars recorded in the corresponding period in 2019.
This development was driven by higher imports of petroleum products, and building and construction equipment for supporting the ongoing infrastructure projects.
The services account recorded a surplus of 515.8 million US dollars in the quarter ending March, lower than a surplus of 610.0 million US dollars dur- ing the corresponding quarter in 2019, owing to an increase in service payments coupled with decrease in service receipts.
Primary income account registered a deficit of 140.7 million US dollars, which is 39.0 percent lower than the deficit in the quar- ter ending March 2019, mainly on account of increase in earnings from investment abroad.
The official foreign exchange reserves amounted to 5,411.3 million US dollars at the end of March sufficient to cover about 6.2 months of projected imports of goods and services excluding foreign direct investment related imports.
The import cover exceeded the country benchmark of not less than 4.0 months, EAC bench- mark of at least 4.5 months, and SADC benchmark of a minimum of 6 months.