THE trade deficit between Zimbabwe and South Africa narrowed by 32% to $98 million in the first eight months of the year, after exports increased by 15%, latest trade data from the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat) shows.
`BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Data gathered from ZimStat shows that Zimbabwe exported goods worth $1,4 billion to South Africa between January and August against imports of $1,5bn, giving a trade deficit of $98m.
During the same period last year, the trade deficit between the two countries was $145m, with imports at $1,3bn against exports of $1,2bn.
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.
In a bid to rein in on the ballooning trade deficit, which on average stood at $3bn, the government in June last year banned the import of hundreds of items from the neighbouring country to shore up local manufacturers.
The list included furniture, baked beans, potato crisps, cereals, 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.
The ban, however, does not seem very restrictive, according to the current trade deficit figures.
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Some of the country’s major import sources in the period under review included Singapore ($780m), China ($339m), Zambia ($97m), Mozambique ($84m), Japan ($82m) and Mauritius ($68m), among others.
Major export destination markets for Zimbabwe were Mozambique ($267m), United Arab Emirates ($111m), Zambia ($45m), Belgium ($21m) and Kenya ($18m).
In total, Zimbabwe’s trade deficit narrowed by 27% to $1,4bn in the period under review, after imports amounted to $3,6bn, while exports trailed at $2,2bn.
During the same period last year, the country’s imports were $3,3bn against exports of $1,5bn, giving trade deficit of $1,8bn. For 2017, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has forecast a $1,5bn trade deficit.
Major exports in the period under review included semi-processed gold valued at $573m, flue-cured tobacco worth $345m, nickel mattes ($344m), nickel ores and concentrates worth $235m, as well as ferrochrome worth $211m.
The country imported diesel worth $540m, unleaded petrol worth $255m, electricity $124m and durum wheat worth $63m.