The trade deficit in Sao Tome and Principe rose by 5.6 percent to USD 32.7 million in the first quarter of 2019 from USD 24.6 million in the same period of 2018. It was the widest trade shortfall since Q2 2017. Imports advanced 7.2 percent from a year ago to USD 34.3 million, mainly driven by purchases of consumption goods (15%), including food (12.2%); books, teaching materials (1501%); medicines (116.7%); and petroleum products (2.5%), namely gasoline (3.1%). In contrast, imports fell for capital goods (-6.5%). Major import partners were the EU (55.7%), of which Portugal (43.5%), Belgium (8.4%); and Angola (23.3%). Meantime, exports soared 71.5 percent to USD 1.6 million, powered by sales of cocoa (59%); chocolate (41.8%) and coconut (15.7%). Meanwhile, shipments declined for coffee (-43.9%). Main export partners were the EU (91 percent of total sales), mostly Belgium (50.5%), the Netherlands (24.4%), France (8.3%); and Angola (5.1%). Balance of Trade in Sao Tome and Principe averaged -20.50 USD Million from 1999 until 2019, reaching an all time high of -1.55 USD Million in the second quarter of 1999 and a record low of -40.65 USD Million in the third quarter of 2014.
Balance of Trade in Sao Tome and Principe is expected to be -31.30 USD Million by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Balance of Trade in Sao Tome and Principe to stand at -33.10 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the Sao Tome and Principe Balance of Trade is projected to trend around -32.33 USD Million in 2020, according to our econometric models.