Exports increase 3% in January as trade deficit narrows to $125.9 mln
HARARE – Latest trade figures from Zimstat show that Zimbabwe’s exports in the first month of 2017 increased 3% to $258.61 million from $249.17 million in the comparable period last year. This was mainly boosted by growth in the exports of processed industrial supplies at $97.1 million. However the total exports are 11% below the $291.9 million recorded a month earlier in December mainly because of the traditional industrial shutdown in the first month of the year.
Imports were down a marginal 2.72% at $384.6 million from $395.34 million in January last year but the month on month drop was much bigger at 21.42% reflective of the challenges the country continues to face in making foreign payments as well as import management measures by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. As a result, the trade deficit narrowed to $125.9 million from $146.16 million in the same year ago period.
According to the figures, food and beverages exports fell 60.43% to $4.33 million from $10.94 million in the same period last year. Major exports in the cluster included macadamia nuts, black tea and cane sugar
Elsewhere, the country exported $99.71 million flue cured tobacco, $2.02 million granite, $29.3 million nickel, $7.5 million chrome, $8.55 million diamonds, $56.71 million gold and $26.12 million ferrochrome. South Africa remained the major export destination at $214.20 million followed by Mozambique and the UAE.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is currently pursuing an export led growth strategy, which it believes is necessary to sustain the multi-currency system. “The RBZ is encouraged by the impact of the 5% export incentive scheme in stimulating export growth and in the process boosting output, productivity and competitiveness which are essential elements for internal devaluation and for transforming Zimbabwe’s growth model to a value based economy,” said the central bank in last week’s Monetary Policy Statement.
The RBZ said it would be carrying out economy wide and sector based assessment of the incentive’s impact on capacity utilisation, employment creation and export receipts. The exercise is geared at promoting an export-led growth strategy for value added products.
Food and beverages imports increased to $53.08 million against the same period last year of $48.4 million but down from the December amount of $79.37 million. Fuels and lubricant imports were at $79.73 million and capital goods at $73.02 million.