Trade deficit narrows 27% to $2.16 bln as exports increase marginally
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s trade deficit in the ten months to October narrowed 27.5% to $2.16 billion on imports of $4.24 billion and exports of $2.08 billion. In the same period last year, the trade deficit was at $2.99 billion on imports of $5.07 billion and exports of $2.07 billion.
According to the latest statistics from ZimStat, total exports (including re-exports) in the period grew a marginal 0.16% mainly on the back of a boost in the gold and tobacco clusters. Gold exports increased to $672.5 million from $503 million same period last year mainly on the back of firming prices and efforts by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to get more gold from artisanal miners. Tobacco worth $506 million was exported against $481 million last year
Other main exports include cut granite $30.8 million, nickel concentrates $237.3 million, crocodile skins $16.2 million and food and beverages $112.3 million. Month on month, exports grew nearly 27% to $318.73 million from $251.31 million in September. Main export markets by country included There is still need for Zimbabwe to improve its export performance if it is to achieve meaningful economic growth. Zimbabwean products have become uncompetitive, due to, among others, to cumbersome regulatory and administrative processes and the generally high manufacturing costs.
In the ten-month period, imports were down nearly 17%. Generally, 2016 has been difficult a difficult year for importers. Having to endure the challenges associated with the external payment systems which crept in late last year, importers were subjected to a new intervention from Government; pre-shipment inspections through Bureau Veritas. The objectives of the inspections were to check on the quality of imported goods to reduce importation of hazardous and substandard substances, including improving the collection of customs duty.
But before importers could adjust to the new requirement, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in May introduced an import priority list to aid in the utilisation of foreign currency. The list favours the importation of raw materials, fuel, capital goods and dividends. It was hoped that the measure would reduce the importation of trinkets and unproductive. But yet again, soon after this, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce introduced Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which took out 42 products from the Open General Import Licence.