BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S trade opened the year in the negative, registering a $44,2 million deficit in January, latest data from the statistics agency has shown.
Figures released by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat) show that in January, the country imported goods and services worth $336,8 million against exports of $292,6 million.
However, the trade figures for January 2018 are still not available as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which is the source of merchandise trade data, has not provided them, according to ZimStat.
The bulk of the country’s imports in the period under review remained heavily skewed towards consumptive products, which comprise fuel, wheat, medicines and vehicles, while exports were gold, flue-cured tobacco, nickel and chrome, among others.
The top four imports in the period under review were ranked as diesel, which guzzled $61 million, followed by unleaded petrol at $36m, aviation spirit ($9,6m) and durum wheat ($7,6m).
The largest foreign currency earners were gold ($64m), followed by tobacco ($63m), nickel mattes ($56m), nickel ores and concentrates ($36m).
In his 2019 monetary policy statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said the country’s external sector position had largely remained under considerable pressure due to excessive foreign currency demand against foreign currency inflows.
“This pressure is manifested through persistent and large trade and current account deficits that the economy has been recording since 2009,” he said.
“While exports of goods and services have been on an upward trend, this has been offset by the increase in imports of goods and services on the back of domestic supply gaps and rising international oil prices.”