By Elorm Desewu
Ghana has recorded a current account surplus of US$194.5 million for the first quarter of 2019. The projected current account surplus for the first quarter of 2019, together with the inflows into the capital and financial account, driven mainly by the Eurobond is expected to result in a provisional overall balance of payments surplus of some US$3,135.0 million representing 4.6% of GDP for the first quarter of 2019.
Excluding the proceeds from the Eurobond, the first quarter overall balance surplus is estimated at US$449.0 million, compared with a deficit of US$614 million representing 0.9% of GDP same time in 2018.
Gross International Reserves (GIR) of the Bank of Ghana rose significantly from US$7.0 billion equivalent to 3.6 months of import cover at the end of December 2018 to US$9.9 billion equivalent to 5.0 months of import cover as at end- March 2019, mainly reflecting the Eurobond inflows.
The prices of Ghana’s three main exports — oil, gold and cocoa — turned out mixed. Provisional estimates for the first quarter in 2019 suggest prices for crude oil edged higher.
International benchmark crude oil price rose by about 12.0 percent in first quarter of 2019 to an average of US$67.43 per barrel. Supply cuts, led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, coupled with oil sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, contributed to the rally in prices.
On average, prices of gold firmed up by 5.5 percent to settle at US$1,320.0 per fine ounce. This was supported by a marginal retreat in the US dollar and affirmation that the Federal Reserve would stick to its dovish stance on monetary policy.
The Cocoa prices however eased by some 5.1 percent from the average of US$2,199 per tonne traded in January 2019. This was attributed to improving weather outlook in West Africa which has boosted supply expectations of cocoa.
These price developments, alongside fairly improved production levels, especially in crude oil, translated to a provisional trade surplus of US$899.0 million representing 1.3% of GDP for the first quarter of 2019, compared with a surplus of US$724.5 million which was 1.1% of GDP in the same period of last year. This trade surplus translated into a current account surplus of US$194.5 million (0.3% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2019.