ZIMBABWE’S trade deficit from February to April 2018 skyrocketed by 69% to $860,3 million as the Southern African country battles to correct trade imbalances, latest trade data from the national statistics agency shows.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In the same period last year, the trade deficit was $510 million.
Figures for January 2018 were not provided with Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) recently saying the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which is the source of merchandise trade data, failed to provide them.
Latest information released by Zimstat showed that from February to April 2018 the country imported goods and services worth $1,7 billion against exports of $964,5 million, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products.
In the same period last year, the country’s imports were $1,3 billion against exports of $781,6 million.
Most of the imports in the period under review were consumptive products such as maize, rice, bottled water, sugar, soap, mobile phone handsets, electronics, vehicle spares, vehicles and generators.
The exports in the period under review included beef, tobacco and other agricultural produce, as well as wines, minerals and scrap metal.
Zimbabwe is struggling to correct trade imbalances following the collapse of local industry.
In a bid to encourage companies to export, the government in 2016 introduced a 5% export incentive bonus scheme.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also tried to urge players in different sectors to stimulate productivity in order to enhance exports and create more jobs across all sectors of the economy.
But despite all these efforts, imports continue outweighing exports.
Presenting his 2018 national budget, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said, notwithstanding signs of improvement in exports, the overall balance of payments situation remained under pressure, with foreign exchange availability to support domestic production constrained.