Restrictions weigh down imports


Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha

IMPORTS have declined by 12 percent in the five months to May this year compared to the same period last year owing to a cocktail of measures adopted by government to curtail a widening trade deficit.

As of May this year, Zimbabwe imported goods worth US$2,1 billion.

The country imported wheat worth US$36,8 million, oil cake (US$22,8 million) and maize at US$97,4 million.

Maize imports rose sharply in May to US$29,9 million from US$13,3 million last month.

Bulk rice imports amounted to US$26 million while soya bean flour and meal imports stood at US$4,7 million.

Much of the imports came from South Africa.

Trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa stood at US$4,2 billion in 2015.

South Africa accounts for 48 percent of Zimbabwe’s overall trade.

During the period under review, South Africa accounted for the bulk of the imports at US$798 million while Singapore was second at US$475,8 million.

The country also imported apples worth US$1,7 million, grapes worth US$1,4 million.

The fruit and veggie list also included items which are readily produced in the country like carrots US$232 490, lettuce US$2 477, peas US$620 213, beans US$768 075 and lemons US$100 408.

Crude soya bean oil imports amounted to US$39,.6 million. Margarine worth US$2,16 million was also brought into the country, and so was cane or beet sugar worthUS$9,8 million.

Interestingly, chewing gum amounting toUS$576 041 was brought in as well.

Imports of mixed condiments and seasoning amounted to almostUS$5 million, while water imports were recorded at US$2,5 million.

Zimbabwe brought in cement worth US$3,4 million. Petrol imports amounted toUS$175 million; paraffin stood atUS$8,3 million while diesel imports were US$323 million.

Still, there is pressure on exports.

At US$948 million, exports were nine percent down from the same period last year.

Zimbabwe’s major exports remained primary commodities despite the current push towards the beneficiation of raw materials.

The decline in exports is a result of weak demand for raw materials, the weakening of the South African rand and challenges in effecting external payments due to the depletion of nostro accounts.

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