Dar Es Salaam - Tanzania's earnings from gold exports fell by 18.2 percent in 2013, undermined by lower output and declining global prices of the precious metal, a central bank report said on Friday.

Africa's fourth-largest gold producer earned $1.73 billion in 2013 from the metal, down from $2.11 billion a year before.

“The value of gold exports declined following a fall in both export volume and unit price,” the Central Bank of Tanzania said in its latest monthly economic review.

“The price of gold declined mainly on account of India's action to restrict importation of gold in efforts to control its current account deficit.”

Tanzania's gold output fell after the Golden Pride mine, owned by Australia's Resolute Mining, and the Tulawaka gold mine, majority owned by London-listed African Barrick Gold, reached the end of commercial production last year.

Earnings from gold accounted for 37.3 percent of total goods exports last year, down from 41.3 percent in 2012.

“Despite the decline, gold continued to dominate non-traditional exports, followed by manufactured goods,” it said.

Tourism overtook gold as the biggest foreign exchange earner in 2013, fetching $1.88 billion, higher than $1.71 billion a year ago, helped by higher tourist arrivals.

The current account recorded a deficit of $4.67 billion in 2013, a 33.5 percent rise from a deficit of $3.499 billion in 2012.

The trade surplus rose to $498.4 million last year from $326.1 million a year ago.

Total exports fell by 1.8 percent to $8.519 billion, largely due to a decrease in the value of goods exports.

Imports rose by 7.3 percent last year to $13.6 billion, from $12.67 billion recorded in 2012 on higher demand for oil.

“The volume of imported oil grew by 25.1 percent to 4.4 million tonnes due to rising demand for thermal power generation, while prices in the world market rose by 4.6 percent,” the central bank said.

The external debt stock reached $13.19 billion last year, an increase of $2.6 billion from 2012, accounting for 39.9 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012/13.

Foreign exchange reserves reached $4.67 billion at the end of December or 4.4 months cover for goods and services imports. - Reuters