ZIMBABWE recorded a trade deficit of $614 million in the first three months to March, an indication the country continues to rely on foreign-produced goods in spite of government efforts to halt the tide, latest trade data from the national statistics agency shows.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In the same period last year, the trade deficit stood at $685 million.
Information released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency showed that imports to March amounted to $1,3 billion against $724 million exports, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products.
In the same period last year, the country’s imports were $1,3 billion against exports of $617 million.
Most of the imports in the first quarter of 2017 were consumptive products such as maize, rice, bottled water, sugar, soap, cellphone handsets, electronics, vehicle spares, vehicles, generators and second hand vehicles.
The exports in the period under review included beef, tobacco and other agricultural produce, as well as wines, minerals and scrap metal.
Some of the goods which the country imported in three months included maize ($119 million), durum wheat ($34 million), rice ($24 million), crude soya bean oil ($24 million), unleaded petrol ($102 million), diesel ($190m), electrical energy ($52m).
Exports included tobacco ($203m), semi-manufactured gold ($182m), nickel ore concentrates ($85m), ferro-chromium ($85m).
Imports from January to March grew 38% to $529 million, while exports on the other hand, dropped 13% to $225 million.
But Zimbabwe registered a trade surplus of $42 million against South Africa, its largest trading partner, after imports were recorded at $519 million against exports of $561 million.
In June last year, Zimbabwe banned the importation of hundreds of items to rein in its ballooning trade deficit, which stood at $3,3 billion and shore up local manufacturers.
The list included furniture, baked beans, potato crisps, cereal, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese.
However, the ban seems not to be taming the country’s appetite to import.
In 2016, the country’s trade deficit dropped to $2,4 billion after exporting goods worth $2,8 billion against imports of $5,2 billion.