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Ghana’s Current Account Worsens   
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Seth Terkper
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Ghana has recorded a current account deficit of US$1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2013 compared to a deficit of US$986.6 million in the same period of 2012.

This means that the country's total imports of goods, services and transfers is greater than the total export of goods, services and transfers indicating that, Ghana is a net debtor to the rest of the world.

According to the Central Bank, the trade deficit worsened to US$334.6 million in the review period, from a near zero balance in the corresponding period of 2012. The services, income and transfer account recorded a lower deficit of US$788 million compared to a deficit of US$986.8 million in 2012.

The outturn for the trade account was driven by some moderation in the prices of the major export commodities on the international market and slower growth in imports.

Total exports declined by 7.3 percent in year-on-year terms to US$3.8 billion during the first quarter of 2013. Of the total, Gold exports were US$1.5 billion, Cocoa beans and products were US$725.8 million, and Crude oil exports amounted to US$1.1 billion.

Total imports, on the other hand, recorded a marginal year-on-year growth of 0.8 percent to US$4.2 billion in the first quarter. Of this, non-oil imports went down by 7.1 percent to US$3.2 billion while oil imports increased by 44.2 percent to US$913.3 million.

The net inflows into the capital and financial account improved to US$1.4 billion compared with US$156.7 million in 2012. This was on the back of higher official capital inflows, amounting to US$316.3 million, net short-term capital flows of US$262 million, portfolio investments of US$246.3 million and private capital of US$570 million.

These developments resulted in an improved balance of payments deficit of US$136.3 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared with a deficit of US$1.3 billion in the same period of 2012.

In the period January to mid-May 2013, the Ghana cedi cumulatively depreciated by 2.3 percent against the US dollar. During the first quarter of 2013, however, the real exchange rate appreciated by 5.9 percent.

Private inward transfers received through the banking system from January to March 2013 declined by 14.1 percent on a year-on-year basis to US$3.9 billion. Of the total transfers, US$393.2 million accrued to individuals compared with US$478.5 million in the same period of 2012.

On the external front, the trade deficit has widened further on the back of a significant deterioration in terms of trade. This was on account of low international commodity prices which have fed through to lower exports receipts, despite imports remaining broadly flat. The combination of these factors have resulted in heightened exchange rate pressures in the foreign exchange market, although at a measured pace, relative to 2012.
Source: Economy Times

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