Zimbabwe trade deficit breaches $20bn mark

Published: 06 September 2018
ZIMBABWE'S trade deficit with the rest of the world breached the $20 billion mark in the past nine years, with much of the imports coming from South Africa (SA), Industry minister Mike Bimha has said.

He said the country imported goods worth $1,2 billion from SA between February and June 2018 against exports valued at $763 million.

"The national statistical agency indicated that the country's current account deficit is widening and cumulatively it has reached over $20 billion since adoption of the multi-currency regime in 2009," he told guests at the Buy Zimbabwe-Zimbabwe Agricultural Society Breakfast meeting in Harare this week.

"Regrettably, the same institution indicated that between February and June 2018, the country imported goods and services worth $2,87 billion against exports of $1,62 billion, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products. The gap is widening as the country's imports stood at $2,25 billion against exports of $1,31 billion during the same period in 2017. Cause for concern is the fact that $1,22 billion worth of these imports came from South Africa, the country's largest trading partner, against exports of $763,94 million," he said.

Other notable imports came from Singapore and stood at $626,88 million against Zimbabwe's paltry exports valued at $2 900.

"Further to that, the most distressing part is that the major contributors of the import bill remain consumptive products. These are, among others, maize, rice, bottled water, sugar, soap, mobile phone handsets, electronic goods, vehicle spares, vehicles and generators," Bimha said.

Specifically, for the period February to June 2018, major imports were mineral fuels including oils at $1,4 billion, about 48 percent of the total import bill, cereal imports reached $287,1 million, machinery including computers at $285,4 million, vehicles at $186 million, electrical machinery, equipment $146,4 million, pharmaceuticals at $112 million, plastics, plastic articles $100,5 million, fertiliser $97,8 million, animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes, import bill was $86,1 million, iron, steel and parts at $63,7 million and other chemical goods $7,4 million.

Commendably, there has been a 28 percent growth in exports against a 24 percent increase in imports," Bimha said.

The meeting presented an opportunity for local businesses to reflect on: "Import Substitution as an Accelerator for Employment Creation, Increased Capacity Utilisation and Economic Development" in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, mining, tourism, banking, ICT, and procurement among others.

The Industry minister said he hopes the discussions will inspire the country to jointly come up with new ways of doing business, increase local production of goods and services and reduce the import bill as Zimbabwe seek to improve its ailing economy.

- fingaz
Tags: Trade,


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