To­tal im­port bill drops

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

THE coun­try’s to­tal im­port bill dropped 20,34 per­cent in the seven months to July weighed down by a num­ber of fac­tors which in­clude trou­bles in the ex­ter­nal pay­ment sys­tems, im­port restric­tions placed on se­lected prod­ucts by Govern­ment, trou­bles in the ex­ter­nal pay­ment sys­tems and weak in­dus­try de­mand for raw ma­te­ri­als.

Weak­ness in the South African rand, whose coun­try is the big­gest trad­ing part­ner, has also con­trib­uted with the rand trad­ing around 12,45 on the dol­lar last year against last month’s 13,9.

Data from Zim­stat shows that im­ports fell to $2,89 billion from $3,62 billion same pe­riod last year. Month on month, July im­ports fell 8,09 per­cent to $394,83 mil­lion from June’s bill of $429,58 mil­lion as for­eign pay­ments con­tinue to face de­lays.

The great­est ef­fect has been pay­ments to coun­tries out of Africa where sup­plier terms are stricter.

In the pe­riod, monthly im­ports from Sin­ga­pore fell 31,55 per­cent to $71,14 mil­lion in July from $103,94 mil­lion in June and United States dropped 46,7 per­cent to $4,83 mil­lion from $9,08 mil­lion in the same pe­riod.

The full im­pact of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016 are ex­pected to kick in from Au­gust go­ing for­ward.

Im­ports from China to­talled $214,5 mil­lion but South Africa re­mained dom­i­nant at $1,14 billion. There was an in­crease month on month on SA im­ports of 4,58 per­cent to $176,37 mil­lion from $168,64 mil­lion as the rand be­gan to firm from lows of 15 to the dol­lar.

South Africa has been most vo­cal about re­cent mea­sures by Govern­ment to con­trol the im­ports of se­lected prod­ucts.

At the on­go­ing South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Sum­mit prepara­tory meet­ings in Swazi­land, In­dus­try Min­is­ter Mike Bimha said the is­sue of the SI had been dis­cussed un­der SA-Zim bi­lat­eral en­gage­ment. The dis­cus­sions also in­cluded the tar­iff phase­down of 112 prod­ucts pro­posed by South Africa.

Though Zim­babwe continued to im­port goods which are read­ily avail­able here such as sweet po­ta­toes, car­rots, nat­u­ral honey, shelled macadamias, lemons; the rate is much lower than last year.

Grape im­ports dropped to $1,5 mil­lion from $1,9 mil­lion last year. Apple im­ports were at $2,58 mil­lion.

Wheat worth $51,11 mil­lion was brought in as the win­ter crop con­tin­ues to de­cline while maize im­ports were at $142,81 mil­lion. In spite of ex­cess seed ca­pac­ity, im­ports were at $538 645. Rice (bulk) at $36,98 mil­lion is a fall from $59 mil­lion last year.

Crude soya bean oil used in cook­ing oil man­u­fac­tur­ing was at $61,79 mil­lion.

Petrol im­ports were at $235,14 mil­lion, down 7,7 per­cent against $254,89 mil­lion last year.

Diesel was at $445,8 mil­lion against $491 mil­lion last year while elec­tric­ity im­ports rose to $76,64 mil­lion from $28,8 mil­lion and against ex­ports of $3,5 mil­lion.

To­tal ex­ports in the pe­riod were at $1,3 billion, a 10,2per­cent drop from $1,45 billion last year.

As a re­sult, the trade deficit nar­rowed 27per­cent at $1,58 mil­lion against $2,16 mil­lion last year.

Flue cured to­bacco ex­ports at $274,35 mil­lion were 5,9 per­cent lower than the $291,5 mil­lion sold last year.

On the min­er­als side gran­ite ex­ports in­creased to $22,5 mil­lion from $15,09 mil­lion last year, nickel near flat at $152 mil­lion and di­a­monds at 77 mil­lion against $123,6 mil­lion last year due to the con­sol­i­da­tion dis­rup­tions.

Gold ex­ports were at $447,23 mil­lion, an in­crease of 20,85 per­cent as global prices firmed against last year while Govern­ment has also put in place mea­sures to get more out­put from the small scale min­ing sec­tor.

Plat­inum ex­ports were down to $26,29 mil­lion from $35,51 mil­lion same pe­riod last year.

The RBZ in May an­nounced a 5per­cent ex­port in­cen­tive which will be funded through a $200 mil­lion Afrex­im­bank fa­cil­ity.

Some coun­tries in the re­gion (eg South Africa), pro­vide ex­port in­cen­tives to fa­cil­i­tate their com­pa­nies to do busi­ness across borders.

Gen­er­ally, man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor’s ex­port per­for­mance be­tween 2014 and 2015 in­di­cates that the sec­tor’s ca­pac­ity to ex­port is de­clin­ing.

In ad­di­tion, the process of ob­tain­ing ex­port doc­u­men­ta­tion (per­mits/li­cences) and achiev­ing ex­port com­pli­ance makes it cum­ber­some to ex­port.

The chal­lenge with the per­mits is not only their cost but also the time it takes to process them, which in it­self is a higher cost.

ZimTrade is cur­rently push­ing for ex­port re­forms while the or­gan­i­sa­tion is at the fore­front of call­ing for the ad­dress­ing of trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion is­sues for the coun­try to re­alise an ex­port eco­nomic growth. — Wires

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