Cayman imported roughly $876 million worth of goods in 2017, the most since 2008 when $941.9 million of goods were imported here, according to the Economics and Statistics Office’s recently released foreign trade statistics report.
The growth in imports was largely driven by the increase in the value of commodities. Petroleum products led the growth, increasing by $15.8 million from about $93 million in 2016 to $109 million last year. This increase was due to rising global fuel prices as well as an increase in the quantity of fuel imported here, the ESO stated.
“Manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials” – which includes products with parts of iron, steel and aluminum – increased from $95.2 million in 2016 to $103.7 million last year. Crude materials grew by 12.9 percent to $16.4 million, and food and live animals increased by 3.1 percent to $176.9 million.
Non-petroleum products increased by $7.5 million (1 percent) to $767.0 million from the $759.5 million recorded in 2016. Among non-petroleum products, the importation of miscellaneous manufactured articles led the growth, increasing by $11.7 million.
Imports that saw a decline included machinery and transport equipment, which declined by 1.1 percent from $171 million to $169 million; beverages and tobacco, which declined by 2 percent to $33.7 million; and chemical and related products, which declined by 1.2 percent to $43 million.
The territory’s exports saw a decline from $42.5 million in 2016 to $27.7 million last year. According to the ESO, food and live animals decreased by 80.1 percent, from 459,000 in 2016 to 115,000 last year. Beverages and tobacco exports also fell from $125,000 in 2016 to $25,000 last year.
The increase in imports and decrease in exports led to Cayman’s trade deficit increasing by $37.8 million to a total of $843.3 million. This figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial services and other services the territory provides to other countries each year.
Cayman’s biggest trade partner continues to be the United States, though the percentage of goods imported from there declined slightly from 84.5 percent in 2016 to 83.5 percent last year.
“Imports from Jamaica, the U.K. and Mexico all increased to higher trading shares of 1.9 percent, 1.1 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively,” the ESO added. “However, imports from Japan and Germany fell in 2017 to record shares of 1.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, which reflects the decline in imports of machinery equipment and transport goods.”