By Stanley James
ZIMBABWE’S trade deficit narrowed to around US$50 million in April this year on the back of a modest increase in tobacco and gold exports.
Data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) shows that export receipts rose by over 5.3 percent buoyed by tobacco sales after the start of the selling season in late March.
As a result, the country’s trade deficit or gap sharply dropped, reflecting the importance of the country’s tobacco industry in stimulating foreign currency generation required to sustain productive sectors.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association President, Mr George Seremwe explained the importance of tobacco value addition strategies in further improving export earnings.
“Adding value to raw tobacco remains key in sustaining the current gains emanating from the growth in exports I think if there is value addition, the country can even realise more in terms of earnings from the golden leaf,” said Seremwe.
While imports also dropped by 10,7 percent, the need for authorities to safeguard industry and households against imported inflation is being described as important in maintaining a favourable trade balance.
“Given the geopolitical trends that have seen shocks within the global economy also having a knock on inflation it is imperative for Zimbabwe to maintain a sustainable import balanced trend otherwise imported inflation might be the order of the day if there isn’t much ability to boost production,” said Mr Elisha Tshuma, Zimbabwe Institute of Certified Customs and Excise Experts board member.
The country’s major exports include tobacco, semi-manufactured gold, platinum group of minerals, industrial diamonds, ferro-chromium, nickel and coke.
Imports were made up of fuels, mineral oil products, vehicles, electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertilisers and cereals.
South Africa remained Zimbabwe’s major trading partner followed by China, Mozambique, Mauritius, India, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, United Kingdom and the United States, among others.
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