Zimbabwe’s balance of trade continues to be in deficit as the country’s growth rate decelerates. The trade deficit widened to $3,3 billion in December 2014 from $2,97 billion in November but declined by 21,2 percent from $4,19 billion registered in 2013.
According to figures from statistical agency, Zimstat, imports were down to $6,37 billion from $8 billion in 2013.
Analysts have attributed the economic slowdown and Government protectionist policies as the major cause of the marked decline in total imports in addition to high import duties in some products.
The country’s top imports in 2015 include fuels, motor vehicles, iron and steel products. In total Zimbabwe imported fuels worth $1,34 billion, motor vehicles worth $430 million, iron and steel products worth $209 million.
Most analysts have highlighted the importance of resuscitating Zimbabwe’s steel industry as the majority of the country steel imports which amount to $209 million could be manufactured locally.
Wheat and rice worth $91 million and $95 million respectively were imported in the year as was $110 million worth of maize making the country a net importer of agriculture commodities.
Other imports include $16 million worth of disposable diapers, $58 million worth of computer software, $50 million worth of cellular phones, $27 million worth of flavoured and sweetened water and $40,31 million of paper products.
Exports were down to $3,06 billion from $3,5 billion in 2013 and $3,8 billion in 2013, with the major exports being tobacco at $804 million, gold at $532 million, Ferro Chrome at $270 million, diamonds at $233 million, cane sugar at $150 million and cotton worth $76,1 million.
South Africa remained the largest trading partner, with Zimbabwe exports to its neighbour amounting to 2,05 billion while Mozambique came in second at $577 million up 9,11 percent from $528,82 million registered last year.
Thanks to diamonds and tobacco Belgium comes in third with exports to the EU country coming to $125 million.
The risk of lower commodity prices and tighter tobacco regulation will in potential have an effect on the country’s trading position, impacting Zimbabwe’s key exports. This would undermine the country’s external and fiscal positions and a negative effect on the country’s growth prospects.
As Zimbabwe’s economy decelerates most analysts anticipate a major decline in the country’s total trade volumes in 2015 mainly due to increased company closures as the country’s manufacturing base continues to shrink, and weak commodity prices putting a major dent on the country’s recovery efforts. — Wires.