The country’s trade deficit for the six months to July 2018 went up 36 percent to $1,5 billion from the comparative prior year as imports continue to grow at a faster rate than exports, data for the first seven months of the year (excluding January) released by Zimstats this week show.
According to Zimstats, the import bill for the six months to July went up by 26 percent to $3,4 billion while exports also went up albeit at a slower pace of 21 percent to $1,9 billion resulting in a trade deficit for the six months to July of $1,5 billion up from $1,1 billion prior year comparative.
The import bill is higher than the $2,7 billion worth of products imported prior year comparative while export proceeds are higher than the $1,57 billion earned prior year comparative.
The deficit could be higher if January figures were to be availed.
Zimstats, however, said it had not received figures for the first month of the year from the primary provider Zimra.
The country’s trade data for the last month of 2017 and January this year is yet to be made available, as the systems crash faced by Zimra affected the timeous capturing of source merchandise data.
Statistics provided by Zimstats this week still did not have January’s trade data.
Month-on-month, there was a slowdown in the July import bill at $559,9 million against an import bill of $614,6 million in June. Exports for July were also down at $340,2 million from $384,6 million in June.
Energy imports continued to dominate with diesel imports amounting to $90,4 million while petrol and electrical energy imports amounted to $39,3 million and $13,1 million respectively.
All three imports were, however, lower than June imports when diesel needed $112,6 million, petrol $54,4 million and electrical energy $22,7 million.
Year on year July’s imports of $559,9 million were up 16,21 percent higher than the $481,8 million worth of imports in July 2017.
On the export side, July’s exports of $340 million were 29,7 percent higher than the July 2017 exports of $261,9 million.
As has been the trend over the years the bulk of the exports were from minerals with Gold earning $117 million (vs $150 million in June), Nickel mates earned $44,0 million (vs $53,8 million in June), flue-cured tobacco weighed in with $42,3 million up from $29,1 million the previous month.
In terms of export destination, South Africa topped, with some $152,9 million realised from export receipts from across the Limpopo. Exports to the United Arab Emirates followed with earnings of $88 million. South Africa was also the biggest source of imports at $220,5 million followed by Singapore at $126,9 million.
While Zimbabwe’s exports are still lower than its imports, there is scope in growing them if government expedites some of the ease of doing business measures and enhance support to the manufacturing sector to ensure sustainable trade.