HARARE — Zimbabwe’s trade deficit stood at $3 billion between January and November last year as the economy continued its overreliance on imports, latest trade data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) shows.
Data released yesterday showed that imports in the first 11 months of the year stood at $5,8 billion while exports amounted to $2,8 billion.
The deficit stood at $2,9 billion between January and October.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said last month that merchandise imports, at around 60 percent, accounted for the bulk of the imports.
“A significant volume of the imported products are non-essential, cheap and sub-standard,” he said then.
Most of the imported goods and services, he said, could “be easily produced in the country”.
Mineral sales dominated the country’s exports followed by agriculture and horticulture products.
The local manufacturing industry, once a major contributor to the country’s exports, is currently struggling on the back of absence of cheap capital and antiquated equipment, and stiff competition from imports.
As a result, its contribution to exports is now minimal.
To curtail the thirst for imports, government has put in place measures including duty hikes on non-essential imports such as bakery products.
At the same time, government has reduced duty on raw materials for a number of products to try and stimulate local production.
The furniture industry, meat processing and sugar industry are among those that benefitted from duty reductions in the 2015 budget.
With the country’s fortunes unlikely to change in 2015, experts have indicated that the country’s trade balance will remain in the red.