BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Latest data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) shows that Zimbabwe exported goods worth $120,9 million to South Africa in March this year against imports of $271,6 million, giving a trade deficit of $150,7m.
During the same period in 2017, Zimbabwe recorded a trade deficit of $41,2 million, with imports at $202,7m against exports of $161,5m.
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.
Zimbabwe imported goods worth $1,18 billion in February and March 2018, with exports amounting to $635,7 million, giving a trade deficit of $544,9m. Last year in the same period, trade deficit was $330,2m.
In March, imports stood at $288,6m while exports were at $605,8m.
Figures for December 2017 and January 2018 were not provided with Zimstat saying the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which is the source of merchandise trade data, failed to provide them.
In the period under review, the country’s exports included scrap metal, agricultural produce, beef, minerals as well as wines.
Zimbabwe’s imports from South Africa included vehicles, fish, sausage casings, biscuits, electrical energy, chemicals, disposable napkins, incontinence pads, and wooden furniture, among others.
Other notable trading partners in the period under review included Singapore, China, Japan, Mozambique, India, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Mauritius.
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.