Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
THE value of goods imported into Zimbabwe rose 19 percent to US$1,3 billion in the three months to June 2019 compared to the previous quarter, but exports dipped 8,3 percent to US$860 million. The increase was mainly attributed to a rise in imports of diesel (up 33,4 percent), petrol (17,6 percent), crude soya bean oil (91,9 percent); and medicines (425,9 percent), the Reserve Bank said in its latest quarterly update.
However, fuel constituted the largest chunk of the total value of imports in the quarter under review, accounting for about 31 percent followed by medicines 3,3 percent, and crude soya bean oil at 2 percent, jet A1 1,1 percent, electricity 1 percent and tractors 0,9 percent.
As a result of the disparity between imports and exports, Zimbabwe’s trade balance widened from a deficit of US$165,9 million registered in the first quarter of 2019, to a deficit of US$450,7 million in the second quarter of 2019.
Total merchandise trade for the second quarter of 2019 amounted to US$2,170 billion, representing a 20,3 percent decline from US$2,722 billion, recorded in the corresponding quarter the previous year.
This followed declines in both exports and imports. Total merchandise trade, however, increased by 6,3 percent, from US$2,042 billion in the first quarter of 2019 to US$2,170 billion in the second quarter of 2019, due to the growth in imports.
“The country’s import bill was mainly composed of diesel, unleaded petrol, crude soya bean oil, medicines, Jet A1, electricity, road tractors, among others. Notably, diesel and petrol imports collectively constituted about 30,4 percent of total imports, during the period under analysis,” RBZ said.
However, on a quarterly comparison for 2019 and 2018, the value of imports at US$1,31 billion represents a 24,7 percent decline this year from US$1,740 billion recorded in the corresponding period last year.
South Africa accounted for the highest proportion of the country’s imports at 36,1 percent, during the second quarter of 2019, followed by Singapore, 30,8 percent, China, 7,6 percent, India, 2,9 percent, Mauritius, 2,2 percent, and the United Kingdom, 1,7 percent.
Merchandise exports for the second quarter of 2019 amounted to US$860 million, a 12,4 percent decline from US$981,5 million realised in the corresponding quarter in 2018.
Compared to the first quarter of 2019, merchandise exports for the second quarter were lower by 8,3 percent.
“The decline in exports was largely on account of a slowdown in export revenues for nickel mattes, cane sugar and flue-cured tobacco, during the quarter under review,” RBZ said.
Gold exports, which constituted a significant share of exports at 27,2 percent of total merchandise exports in the second quarter of 2019, recorded a marginal increase of 1 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2019.
The major exports comprised nickel ores and concentrates, nickel mattes, ferro-chrome, flue-cured tobacco, industrial diamonds and unwrought iron.
The country’s exports were mainly destined for the region, with South Africa absorbing 42,9 percent of the country’s total exports, followed by the United Arab Emirates (18,8 percent), Mozambique (9,0 percent), Belgium (2,1 percent), Zambia (1,9 percent) and Botswana (1,3 percent).