Zim splashes mil­lions on lux­ury im­ports

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Michael Tome Busi­ness Re­porter

ZIM­BABWE is spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars on im­port­ing prod­ucts that it should or­di­nar­ily man­u­fac­ture lo­cally or sim­ply do with­out, lat­est fig­ures from the Zim­babwe National Sta­tis­tics Agency (ZimS­tat) have re­vealed.

Plas­tic bot­tles, car­boys, flasks and other sim­i­lar ar­ti­cles of plas­tic gob­bled nearly $30 mil­lion in im­ports from Fe­bru­ary to Oc­to­ber last year, as some mi­nor com­modi­ties con­tinue to weigh heav­ily on the coun­try’s im­port bill.

All sorts of non-es­sen­tial com­modi­ties have been cross­ing into the coun­try of late, with footwear and leather pol­ishes gob­bling close to $1,7 mil­lion from Fe­bru­ary to Oc­to­ber 2018. In the same pe­riod, $181,793 worth of chew­ing gum was im­ported.

An­a­lysts said in­dus­try was in­ca­pac­i­tated by the ex­change con­trol regime as busi­nesses, which should get forex, were side­lined in favour of peo­ple who were con­sump­tive.

Zim­babwe’s im­port bill has bal­looned over the years, cre­at­ing peren­nial trade deficit, with re­cent fig­ures in­di­cat­ing that the deficit stood at 37 per­cent in Oc­to­ber last year to $144 mil­lion after to­tal ex­ports jumped 25 per­cent to $449 mil­lion largely driven by a 300 per­cent jump in to­bacco ship­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion compiled by ZimS­tat, a col­lec­tion of su­per­flu­ous goods has led to an un­prece­dented rise on the coun­try’s im­port bill. Make up and skin­care-re­lated items con­sumed a whop­ping $7,2 mil­lion worth of im­ports as de­odor­ants, shav­ing creams and anti-per­spi­rants gob­bled $2 mil­lion for the 10 months from Fe­bru­ary to Oc­to­ber 2018.

Poly­mer sacks and bags con­sumed slightly above $3 mil­lion dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

In­dus­try play­ers urged the Gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a roadmap for the man­u­fac­ture of such com­modi­ties, mainly those of syn­thetic na­ture which are ev­i­dently claim­ing a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the scarce for­eign cur­rency.

Zim­babwe im­ports about 55 per­cent of ba­sic com­modi­ties and other es­sen­tial goods due to low pro­duc­tiv­ity in the ma­jor­ity of the coun­try’s sec­tors, which con­se­quently ex­ert pres­sure on lit­tle for­eign ex­change earn­ings.

In terms of agri­cul­ture-re­lated prod­ucts, there is a gen­tle in­crease in im­ports, with seed potato claim­ing $5,5 mil­lion as cheese and fresh grapes con­sumed $2,6 mil­lion and $2,3 mil­lion, re­spec­tively.

On the fish­ing side, jack and horse mack­erel no­tably gob­bled $6,4 mil­lion on its part, whilst other var­ied types of fish, in­clud­ing tinned fish, ate up a sig­nif­i­cant amount of for­eign cur­rency.

Zim­babwe’s im­ports were mainly sourced from South Africa (35,2 per­cent) Singapore (19,4 per­cent); United King­dom (6,4 per­cent); China (7,5 per­cent); and Ja­pan (4,5 per­cent).

The United King­dom’s De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment has do­nated 3 000 bi­cy­cles as part of ef­forts to de­liver qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to marginalised chil­dren in ru­ral areas by re­duc­ing the time they spend trav­el­ling to school. Here, head of DFID Zim­babwe Annabel Gerry (far right) and four pupils en­joy a ride on some of the bi­cy­cles in Ruwa yesterday. — (Read story on Page 6). — (Picture by Ed­ward Zvem­isha)

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