Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S exports increased by 40 percent to $3,5 billion between January and November last year compared to $2,5 billion during the comparable period in 2016, official trade figures show. The improved export performance during the 11-month period is largely attributed to a raft of measures the Government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have announced to boost domestic output and tame the trade imbalance.
Latest data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) also indicate that although the value of exports had improved during the period under review, the country still recorded a negative trade deficit.
Between January and November 2017, Zimbabwe’s imports totalled $4,9 billion reflecting a trade deficit of $1,4 billion. Zimbabwe exports to different countries across the globe with South Africa being its largest trading partner. Zimstat trade figures also indicate that during the period under review, goods worth $2,2 billion were exported to South Africa while imports from the neighbouring country amounted to $2 billion.
Zimbabwe’s exports largely comprise agricultural produce and minerals while the country’s imports were woven fabric, synthetic fibre, canvas and ornamental trimmings among others. A recent United Nations report revealed that Zimbabwe is among the developing countries that heavily rely on commodity exports due to limited diversification of their economies.
Due to suppressed production the country also relies on importing key raw materials for its industry, which drains the scarce foreign exchange in the economy. In this regard, experts have stressed the need to adopt a value chain approach and import substitution models under the value addition and beneficiation thrust so as to ensure production of high value end products.
Value addition and beneficiation is a key component of the country’s economic blue-print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset). President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also called on the need for concerted efforts by players in different sectors to stimulate productivity in order to enhance exports and creating more jobs across all sectors of the economy.
In 2016, RBZ introduced a 5 percent export incentive bonus scheme with a view of encouraging companies to export. This week, the country’s export promotion agency, ZimTrade announced that it has secured $100 million under the export development fund to support the growth of small businesses and exporters with a view to growing the economy.
The facility, which is being disbursed through Agribank and Homelink attracts interest rates of around 7,5 percent per annum. The Government has noted exports as a major source of liquidity for overall economic activity.