PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritius’ trade deficit widened 1.6 percent to 5.22 billion Mauritius rupees in September from a year earlier due to higher imports, the statistics office said on Friday.
Imports rose 5.8 percent from a year ago to 11.0 billion rupees, mainly due to an increase in purchases of mineral fuels and lubricants, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.
Exports from the Indian Ocean island increased 10 percent to 5.8 billion rupees on the back of higher shipments of food and live animals.
Exports had been hit by weak global demand, and analysts say Mauritius’ 2011 budget -- to be unveiled later on Friday -- should focus on shoring up the country’s economic recovery amid growing uncertainty in its key European markets.
In September the government revised down its forecast for economic growth this year to 4.1 percent after a June forecast of 4.2 percent.
In September, Britain was the main buyer of goods from Mauritius, accounting for 20.7 percent of its exports, while India supplied 17.7 percent of the island’s imports.
The government launched a 12 billion rupee stimulus package in August to help the economy counter challenges as the euro zone crisis put pressure on the euro, threatening the island’s tourism and European demand for its exports.
The government sees the country’s trade deficit widening to 67 billion rupees this year, from 56.9 billion rupees in 2009, due to weak European demand.
The euro zone is a major source of revenue for the island’s key tourism and textile sectors.