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Tanzania's Deficit hits $3.84bn

Dec 21 2012 17:23 Reuters
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Dar es Salaa - Tanzania's current account deficit increased by 13.1% in the year to October following a rise in imports of oil and of machinery for gas and oil exploration, its central bank said on Friday.

The deficit in east Africa's second-biggest economy, which is fast becoming a regional energy hub following recent major discoveries of natural gas in its offshore waters, widened to $3.84bn from $3.397bn in the year-ago period.

Oil imports surged 21.3% to $3.516bn due to a rise in domestic demand.

"There was ... a substantial increase in imports of machinery associated with an increase in gas and oil exploration activities," said the central bank in its latest monthly economic review.

The country's total imports bill rose by 15.8% to $13.06bn, while exports jumped by 14.9% to $8.43bn from a year ago.

The central bank said gold exports, the country's top foreign exchange earner, fetched $2.17 billion in the year to October from $2.15 billion in the same period last year, reflecting an increase in gold prices on the world market.

Tanzania, with a population of around 43 million people, is Africa's fourth-largest gold producer after South Africa, Ghana and Mali. Gold accounted for 51.5 percent of the country's total non-traditional exports.

Also a big tourism destination in the region, Tanzania said earnings from that sector increased to $1.53bn from $1.34bn a year ago as tourist arrivals rose.

Gross official foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased to $4.1bn in the year to October, or about 3.8 months of import cover, from $3.484bn a year ago.

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