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South Africa, Zimbabwe trade deficit widen by 15%

South Africa, Zimbabwe trade deficit widen by 15%

JOHANNESBURG: The trade deficit between Zimbabwe and South Africa widened by 15% to $131 million in the first seven months of the year, latest trade data from the Statistics Agency shows.

Data gathered from the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) shows that Zimbabwe exported goods worth $1,1 billion to South Africa between January and July against imports of $1,3 billion, giving a trade deficit of $131 million.

Last year in the same period, trade deficit between two countries stood at $114 million, with imports standing at $1,1 billion against exports of $1,03 billion.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.

In June last year, Zimbabwe banned the import of hundreds of items from its southern neighbour to rein in its ballooning trade deficit, which on average stood at $3 billion to shore up local manufacturers.

The list included furniture, baked beans, potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese.

The ban, however, seems not to be more restrictive according to the current trade deficit figures.

In total, Zimbabwe’s trade deficit narrowed by 21% to $1,2 billion in the period under review, after imports amounted to $3,1 billion while exports trailed at $1,9 billion.

Major exports included semi-processed gold worth $468 million, nickel mattes ($305 million), flue cured tobacco ($282 million), nickel ores and concentrates ($201m) and ferrochrome worth $184 million.

Imports included diesel at $463 million, unleaded petrol at $225 million, electricity $108 million, crude soya bean oil worth $62 million, among others.

The country’s reliance on imports remains high despite government measures to control imports as the local industry remains in quandary.

Zimbabwe’s major exports during the period under review were tobacco and minerals such as gold and platinum.

Some of Zimbabwe’s major export markets in the period under review were Mozambique ($226m), United Arab Emirates ($85m), Zambia ($40m), Kenya ($16m) and Belgium ($13m).

The country’s major import markets in the period under review were Singapore ($706m), China ($306m), Mozambique ($75m), Japan ($70m), India ($60m) and Mauritius ($59m).