Zimbabwe’s trade flow for the first five months showed some improvement, as the economy continues to respond to measures put in place to foster macro-economic stability and to curtail leakages from the circular flow of income.
Data released by Zimstat showed that the country’s exports increased 19,19 percent to $1,13 billion between January and May this year, compared to the $948,2 million recorded during the same period last year. Imports slightly edged up 3,67 percent to $2,14 billion, although they are now mainly composed of capital goods, raw materials and intermediate goods, with finished goods being restricted to critical goods that are needed to propel the economy.
Resultantly, the trade deficit also declined by 9,5 percent to $1,01 billion, as the country continues to enforce import substitution measures and increase measures to curb smuggling at the ports of entry.
Exports continue to be concentrated on South Africa, Mozambique and the United Arab Emirates, accounting for 94,58 percent of total exports to the world. Exports to the United Arab Emirates increased from $6,2 million in April to $12,9 million in May. Exports to South Africa increased 26,9 percent to $163,6 million in May, compared to $128,9 million in the prior month.
Gold continues to be the key product by value, as tobacco exports are receding in line with the seasonal trend. Gold exports for May, at $77,4 million, were the highest so far in the year; with nickel ores and concentrates also reaching $31,9 million, again the highest so far in 2017. Ferro-chromium exports receded to $30,2 million in May, from $33,4 million in the prior year.
No nickel mattes exports were recorded in April, but there was a comeback in May with $5,8 million worth of nickel mattes exports being registered. Flue cured tobacco exports were $14,5 million in May, from a higher record of $99 million registered in January.
In terms of imports, South Africa continues to be the main import market, with import volumes rising from $177,1 million in April to $182,4 million in May. Imports from China also jumped 134 percent to $59,5 million in May, from $25,4 million in the prior month. Imports from Singapore also rose from $88,4 million in April to $93,1 million in May.
Crude soya imports increased from $7,4 million in April to $12,6 million in May. The area planted for soya bean declined 46 percent to 21,651 hectares this year, compared to 39,935 hectares in the prior agricultural season, which has created shortages of the commodity in the domestic market.
Unleaded petrol imports declined to $28,2 million in May, compared to $31,2 million in April. However, diesel imports surged 13,5 percent to $67 million during the same period. Urea imports also declined from $5,4 million in April to $832 000 in May.
Meanwhile, Government is planning to introduce a local content policy that is likely to gear up the country’s protectionist stance. — Wires.