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Zim trade deficit widens

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ZIMBABWE’S trade deficit has continued to widen as the country continues being a net importer against the backdrop of a poorly performing manufacturing sector, latest government figures have shown.

Report by Bernard Mpofu Chief Business Reporter

According to a monthly state of the economy review by the Finance ministry for the month of November, imports maintained a sharp upward trend while exports marginally rose, further blighting growth prospects for the capital-starved economy.

Figures show that the deficit which in July was just over $1 billion, now stands at $3,58 billion as the country continues to be a net importer.

The government figures indicate that fuel imports, raw materials, fast moving consumer goods and other intermediate goods for industry are currently driving the country’s import bill.

The government is targeting to increase export earnings by at least 10% annually from $4,3 billion in 2011 to $7 billion in 2016.

“As at 15 November 2012, monthly imports stood at $383 million compared to $718 million recorded in October 2012.

“Cumulative imports to 15 November 2012 amounted to $7 billion compared to $5,5 billion recorded in the corresponding period in 2011,” reads the economic review in part.

“As at 15 November, monthly exports stood at $330 million compared to $405 million in October.

“Cumulatively, total exports to 15 November stood at $3,42 billion compared to $3,12 billion realised during the corresponding period in 2011.

“This translates to a 9,6% increase in declared exports shipments in 2012.”

The mining sector, according to the report, accounted for 61,8% of exports followed by tobacco 21,8%, agriculture 9,2%, manufacturing 6,7%, horticulture 0,3% and hunting 0,2%.

Platinum and diamonds dominated mineral exports contributing over $1,2 billion.

Despite the mining sector accounting for bulk of total exports, experts contend that Zimbabwe should move away from being an exporter of primary commodities to broaden the revenue base.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on platinum miners to set up a refinery to process the white metal.

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