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Business News of Thursday, 20 September 2018

Source: Standard Bank

Ghana’s balance of payment strengthens consistently - Standard Bank

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Ghana’s Balance of Payment (BOP) has strengthened consistently aided by oil exports, strong forex reserves and issuance of Eurobonds. This was contained in the August edition of the African Local Markets Monthly (ALMM) report issued by the Standard Bank.

“Our relatively constructive view is founded on an assessment that the country’s BOP has strengthened on a durable basis. Oil exports have helped to turn the trade balance to surplus, something that is likely to last. In the first five months of the year, total exports amounted to roughly USD1.5 billion, giving rise to a trade surplus of USD261.1 million”, the report said. ?

The ALMM also reports that the Ghana Cedi is expected to depreciate at a much slower pace against the US Dollar this year than experienced in recent times. The report indicated that “on a multi-month basis, it still looks likely that the pair will head higher. But it is likely to be at a far slower pace than we have seen in recent years. We still believe that the pace of depreciation of the GHS will be considerably lower than the average 13.0% annualized pace of depreciation over the last 10 years”.?

The report attributes this to the willingness of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to supply the currency market with forex rates much lower than prevailing rates, a strengthened balance of payment (BOP) on a durable basis, largely supported by oil exports and government’s issuance of Eurobonds.

According to the report, “the BoG has shown itself to be willing to supply FX to the market whenever there are indications of large outflows. The FX sales are not intended to prevent the GHS from depreciating per se. But it is notable that the BoG’s FX sales are at rates considerably below prevailing interbank rates. Of course, this is not something new. The BoG typically sells USD at rates lower than the prevailing market rates”.

Commenting on Phumelele Mbiyo, Head of Africa Research at Standard Bank said: “Forex reserves remain relatively robust, something we expect to persist over the remainder of this year and for much of next year. Gross forex reserves amounted to USD5.9 billion in May, up from USD5.0 billion in April. Also, thanks to the government’s issuance of Eurobonds, forex reserves rose to USD7.3 billion at the end of June, covering 3.9-m of imports according to the BoG’s calculations”.

The report also noted that anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a fair amount of outflows from the market in the last three months or so. “While the magnitude is uncertain, the outflows have prompted the BoG to sell some forex. As of the end of May, foreigners held GHS28.16 billion of local debt out of a total of GHS72.4 billion.

The African Local Markets Monthly is a monthly report issued by the Standard Bank Group, parent company of Stanbic Bank Ghana and focuses on the economic and financial outlook of African countries. The report also reviews current economic situations and makes short to medium-term predictions about the economies of African countries.