Zam­bia Q1 trade deficit with SA nar­rows to US$344mil­lion...

Zambian Business Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Zam­bia’s im­port bill is said to be weighted 33% on trade with Africa’s most in­dus­tri­alised econ­omy South Africa. First quar­ter trade sta­tis­tics re­veal a nar­row­ing trade deficit tra­jec­tory to USD344mil­lion as South Africa im­ported re­fined cop­per wires from Zam­bia worth about USD114mil­lion in the month of March 2018. Trade im­ports has be­come a top­i­cal is­sue re­flect­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties that Zam­bia grap­ples with and as such has to im­port prod­ucts from South Africa which is more ma­ture in eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture. The April 2018 Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice - CSO bul­letin re­veals a con­tin­ued prod­uct im­port trend from South Africa with its Jan­uary im­port bill at USD190mil­lion. Fe­bru­ary and March im­ports from South Africa into Zam­bia to­talled USD213mil­lion and US$221mil­lion re­spec­tively. To­tal (Q1: 2018) im­port bill for Zam­bia from South Africa was recorded at USD624mil­lion. Key prod­ucts im­ported from South Africa mostly in­clude pe­tro­leum oils, ve­hi­cles, ma­chin­ery and equip­ment, chem­i­cals mostly used in the min­ing in­dus­try as well as con­sumer goods mostly dis­trib­uted in SA owned shop­ping malls and chain stores that dom­i­nate the Zam­bia re­tail sec­tor. In re­verse, Zam­bia’s ex­ports to South Africa started the year on a shaky note with Jan­uary 2018 ex­ports record­ing US$25mil­lion which then in­creased to USD65mil­lion in Fe­bru­ary while the March num­ber tripled to a record high of USD190mil­lion ow­ing to new line of re­fined cop­per wire ex­ports. It is not yet clear if this ex­port is a long term con­tract or once off. The one-off ex­port ac­counted for USD114mil­lion rep­re­sent­ing (60%) of to­tal march ex­ports. Other prod­ucts that Zam­bia ex­ports to South Africa in­clude semi-pro­cessed cop­per, cop­per-cobalt al­loy, soya beans and re­cently sugar cane. Zam­bia es­tab­lished a com­pany called Zam­bia Metal Fabri­ca­tors - ZAMEFA to sup­port lo­cal cop­per and other pro­cess­ing into fin­ished -high end goods such as cop­per wire ca­bles but the com­pany was later pri­va­ti­za­tion. Pri­vately owned new en­trants in cop­per ca­ble pro­cess­ing such as ZALCO and Neelka­nth ca­bles are mak­ing ef­forts to lo­cal­ize the pro­cess­ing of cop­per to fin­ished goods within Zam­bia. Zam­bia and South Africa en­joy a loop sided eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship. the Lusaka - Zam­bia to Jo­han­nes­burg-South Africa air­freight route has the high­est fre­quency and busiest flight route with about 5 daily flights ser­viced by South Africa’s na­tional car­rier, South Africa Air­ways – SAA and Air­link. The Zam­bian au­thor­i­ties have been en­gag­ing their South African counter-parts es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness coun­cil and as­so­ci­a­tions how­ever with in­tan­gi­ble and quan­tifi­able trade deals have been signed to cover the wide trade deficit. It re­mains a chal­lenge for the Trade and Com­merce Min­istries to ad­dress.

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