ZIMBABWE opened the year 2016 with a trade deficit of $150 million as the country continues its over-reliance on foreign produced goods, latest trade data from the national statistics agency have shown.
Data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) last week showed that exports in January amounted to $249 million against $399 million worth of imports, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products following a significant drop in raw materials importation.
Most of the imports were consumptive products such as bottled water, sugar, soap, cooking oil, cellphone handsets, electronics, vehicles spares, clothing and second hand vehicles.
Cumulatively, imports from January 2015 to January this year amounted to $6,4 billion while exports were at $2,9 billion.
Last year, from January to December the country’s trade deficit stayed flat at $3,3 billion.
The government had predicted a $3 billion trade deficit for the whole year. Imports were projected to decline to $6,2 billion this year from $6,3 billion in 2015. Exports were expected to grow to $3,7 billion this year from $3,4 billion projected last year.
In 2014, Zimbabwe also registered a trade deficit of $3,3 billion while in 2013 it was $4,19 billion.
Zimstat said maize, rice, wheat, crude oil and cane topped the list of imports while 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.
In his 2016 National Budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the continued depreciation of the South African rand against the United States dollar had undermined the competitiveness of Zimbabwe’s exports.