Zim narrows trade deficit by 27%

ZIMBABWE’S trade deficit in the 11 months to November this year narrowed by 27% to $2,2 billion, an indication that government’s import restriction measures have started bearing fruit, latest data from the national statistics agency has shown.

Source: Zim narrows trade deficit by 27% – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 21, 2016

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

The government recently introduced Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 which restricted importation of 43 products that have local equivalents in a bid to stimulate demand for domestic products.

According to data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, Zimbabwe posted a $2,2 billion trade deficit in the 11 months to November, compared to $3 billion in the previous corresponding period.

Trade figures showed that exports amounted to $2,5 billion against $4,7 billion imports, indicating the country’s continued reliance on imported goods as local industry remains depressed.

Exports in the period under review were dominated by gold, tobacco, nickel and diamonds, while imports comprised mainly of fuel, medicines, maize and vehicles, among others.

Cumulatively to November, Zimbabwe exported gold worth $781 million followed by tobacco which racked in $753 million and nickel ore at $264 million.

In November, exports increased by 45% to $461 million while imports slightly increased by 1% to $474 million.

However, in his 2017 National Budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the high import bill remained unsustainable.

He said the prioritisation of essential imports, through implementation of temporary imports instruments such as SI64 was central to the country’s economy, contributing positively to regional economic performance.

“With regards to evening the playing field, initial results from an evaluation of the impact of SI64 indicate gains in capacity utilisation across sub-sectors such as milling and baking, food, fruits and vegetables processing.
Others included iron and steel making, battery manufacturing, packaging, pharmaceuticals, and furniture manufacturing, among others,” Chinamasa said.

South Africa was the biggest source market for imports with $1,9 billion worth of products over 11 months to November followed by Singapore with $1,01 billion.

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