BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE has, since 2009, accumulated a trade deficit of $32,15 billion, a development that has left the country battling with persistent foreign currency shortages, a government official has said.
Giving her welcome remarks at the ninth Buy Local Summit in Bulawayo yesterday, Bulawayo Metropolitan Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube said Zimbabwe has faced incessant trade deficits since the country dollarised a decade ago.
“The country’s external sector position has largely remained under considerable pressure due to excessive foreign currency demand, even against the increasing foreign currency
inflows,” Ncube said.
“This pressure is manifested through persistent and large trade and current account deficits that the economy has been recording since dollarisation, even though exports of goods and
services have been on an upward trend,” she said.
Ncube said Zimbabweans face the huge task of re-building the economy, increasing production and productivity, reducing the import bill and prioritising investment, as key ingredients for powering the economy to attain upper-middle income economy by 2030.
“There is need for all stakeholders, including government, industry, consumers, employees and the micro-small and medium enterprises, to make deliberate efforts to support the buy local
initiative to reduce imports and localise investment to create employment and improve the livelihoods of Zimbabweans,” she said.
Officially opening the summit, Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Nqobizitha Ndlovu, who was represented by his deputy minister, Raj Modi, said the current trade imbalance and
growing preference for imports, at the expense of locally produced goods and services, was a cause for concern.
He said the country’s external sector position had largely remained under pressure, even against increased foreign currency inflows.
This pressure, he said, manifested itself through persistent large trade and current accounts deficits that the economy had recorded since dollarisation.
“This is not sustainable, and there is need to change this and work towards reducing the trade deficit gap that the country has continued to experience,” he said.
Ndlovu said Zimbabwe had substantial potential to produce the majority of products that were imported and consumed locally.
In a bid to promote the buy local initiative, Ndlovu said his ministry had developed sector strategies, among them the Zimbabwe leather strategy, Zimbabwe cotton-to-clothing as well
as the Zimbabwe motor industry development policy.
These strategies, he said, were meant to enhance local production and bring growth into the country’s manufacturing sector.
The ministry has also came up with the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (2019-2030) centred on developing and facilitating industrial linkages across key sectors of the economy, namely manufacturing, agriculture, mining and services.
He also urged captains of industry and commerce to uphold good corporate governance, good leadership and business management styles that promote a thriving and vibrant manufacturing sector.