Saudi Arabia’s external trade continued to display moderation for the third month in a row in March. The value of exports totaled SR 16.5 billion versus SR 17.5 billion a year ago.
Volume-wise, exported goods weighed 3.8 million tons compared with 4.3 million tons last year, the National Commercial Bank said in its Saudi economic report released yesterday.
In perspective, the report said export revenues declined by 5.9 percent Y/Y while the volume of exports declined by 11.5 percent, reflecting continued adequate demand for Saudi exports. On the imports side, the value of imported goods amounted to SR 51 billion, surpassing last year's figures by 12.7 percent. On the other hand, the volume of imports receded by 11.6 percent to record a total of 6 million tons, which is indicative that imported inflation is intensifying.
Analysis of exports composition shows that petrochemicals regained dominance as the top nonoil export category by 33.7 percent. With SR 5.5 billion in revenue, it notes a Y/Y surge of 13.4 percent.
Plastics and rubber, which make up 29.3 percent of Saudi exports, registered a return of SR 4.8 billion, growing by 4.1 percent on an annual basis. Base metals exports and their articles, weighing as much as 7.7 percent of the Kingdom's exports, were valued at SR 1.3 billion.
That, in turn, marks an upsurge of 48.7 percent. Exports analysis by direction shows that UAE, China, and Singapore were the top three trading partners, with demand weighing as much as 14 percent, 10.8 percent, 6.2 percent, respectively. SR 2.3 billion worth of goods headed to UAE, which leaps over China as the top importer of Saudi exports, registering a 42 percent rise. Meanwhile, Singapore's demand for Saudi exports waned by 0.7 percent Y/Y, generating SR 1 billion of export revenue.
Analysis of Saudi imports by composition reveal that 26.6 percent of nonoil imports comprise of machinery and electrical equipment, which continues to dominate the categories of goods demanded in Saudi Arabia. As much as SR 13.6 billion worth of machinery and electrical equipment were realized, making a 20.7 percent upturn over last year. Transport equipment, which weigh up to 20.2 percent of the Kingdom's demand for foreign goods, amassed SR 10.3 billion, surging by 44.4 percent. The Kingdom's imports of base metals which registered SR 6.8 billion, make up 13.3 of nonoil imports. In comparison to last year, it denotes a 10.5 percent growth.
The largest exporters of nonoil articles and products to the Kingdom are; the US, China, and Germany with import shares of 13.9 percent, 11.2 percent, and 6.2 percent, respectively.
The US continues to dominate as the largest source of imports since October of last year, surging in March by 33.9 percent Y/Y after racking up SR 7.1 billion. China, the second largest, made an annual upturn of 18.5 percent, attracting SR 5.7 billion. Imports of German origin recorded SR 3.2 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent Y/Y.
In the month of April, settled LCs show an annual growth of 2.9 percent, a total of SR 22.6 billion. This is supported by strong demand for items such as motor vehicles and foodstuff. On an annual basis, motor vehicles LCs increased by 18.6 percent, and foodstuff LCs edged up by 24.5 percent. On the downside, machinery and building materials contracted by 4.4 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively in moderation of last year's high figures. Opened LCs, which recorded SR 18.7 billion, show a similar behavior with motor vehicles and foodstuffs remaining on the upside trajectory of 70.3 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
Whereas machinery and building materials show a moderation of 34.8 percent and 39.4 percent, respectively.