Zim merchandise trade down 8,5pc in May

Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe’s total merchandise trade stood at $799,6 million in May, down 8,5 percent down from $873,7 million in April this year. According to latest Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) figures, the decline was on account of a month-on-month decrease in merchandise exports and imports.

The statistics show that merchandise exports amounted to $267,2 million in May 2018, down from $329,6 million in the previous month.

This was on the back of declines in export earnings of nickel mattes which were down 48,9 percent while gold was 29,1 percent lower than the previous month, with black granite slipping 19,8 percent.

Also going down was unwrought platinum, sliding 16,3 percent while ferrochrome slipped 9,1 percent; and nickel ore and concentrates were down 5,3 percent.

Central bank figures show that the country’s exports were mainly destined to South Africa (46,7 percent); United Arab Emirates (22,6 percent) and Mozambique (12,3 percent) during the month under review.

At the same time, total merchandise imports declined by 2,2 percent from $544,1 million in April to $532,4 million in May.
“This was underpinned by significant declines in imports of ammonium nitrate, which was down 95,5 percent; electrical energy, which slipped 62,4 percent; urea down 58,3 percent; medicines reducing by 14 percent and rice, which also fell by 12 percent.”

Broadly speaking, the merchandise trade developments during the month of May resulted in a deficit of $265,2 million, up from a deficit of $214,5 million recorded in April.

Analysts as Akribos Research Services maintain that Zimbabwe, as a commodity-dependent economy like most countries in the region, is prone to vagaries within the regional and/or global milieu.

“Sub Saharan African (SSA) economies’ foreign revenues are largely driven by commodity exports. In 2017 economic conditions remained challenging for many commodity-exporting countries despite small improvement in prices, underscoring the vulnerability to commodity boom and bust cycles in countries that are over-reliant on a narrow range of natural resources.

“Prospects in SSA remain heavily dependent on a few commodities with the lion’s share of foreign revenues coming from commodities (80 percent to 100 percent).

“Commodity price risk is the region’s biggest risk and most of the downward revisions to economic growth is linked to commodity price busts,” says the analysts.

Meanwhile, during the month under review, South Africa continued to be the key import market for the country.
Zimbabwe sourced 37,9 percent imports from South Africa; Singapore (21,4 percent; China (5,1 percent); Bahamas (3,5 percent); Japan (3,3 percent); United Kingdom (3,3 percent) and Mexico (2,6 percent).

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