By Tichaona Kurewa
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s exports for the month of January 2017 have increased slightly compared to the same period last year owing to various measures such as five percent export incentive instituted by government to spur production.
According to Zimstat, Zimbabwe’s exports in January 2017 increased three percent to US$258.61 million from US$249.17 million in 2016 buoyed by the exports of processed industrial supplies at US$97.1 million.
During the same period, imports tumbled marginally by 2.72 percent at US$384.6 million from US$395.34 million in January last year but the month-on-month decline was much bigger at 21.42 percent due to shortage of foreign currency in the country. Resultantly, the trade deficit contracted to US$125.9 million compared to US$146.16 million in the same period 2016.
On the export list is flue cured tobacco US$99.71, granite US$2.02 million, nickel US$29.3 million, chrome US$7.5 million, diamonds US$8.55 million, gold US$56.71 million and ferrochrome US$26.12 million.
The figures also show that South Africa is still Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner at US$214.20 million followed by Mozambique (US$23.9 million) and the United Arab Emirates (US$8.2 million), Belgium (US$5.7 million), Zambia (US$3.8 million) and Botswana(US$1.20 million).
South Africa has always and will always remain Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and that may not change in the foreseeable future because of Pretoria’s proximity to Zimbabwe and other reasons.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced that the introduction of an export incentive scheme financed through bond notes has seen a positive response, particularly from tobacco and gold producers.
Experts content that Zimbabwe’s import bill will further go down in 2017 as prospects of a good season are high this year owing to good rains currently being received in most farming areas.
This will go a long way in reducing the importation of maize, agricultural raw materials at the same time increasing the exportation of products such as cotton lint and sugar.
Economic analyst, Emmanuel Mambo, said the year had started on a positive note in terms of export figures.
“It’s a positive step, being the beginning of the year, and might be signalling a responsive (attitude) to initiatives by authorities to grow the country’s exports.
“It would be helpful if the momentum can be maintained for the rest of the year, while at the same time imports are managed to ensure that the gains of growth in exports eventually allow the country’s trade balance to be in the positive,” Mambo said.
Apart from export incentive, Harare also introduced other measures to boost production.
These include ease and cost of doing business reforms being championed by the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Public Finance Management Framework by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Special Economic Zones by the Ministry of Macro-Planning and Investment Promotion, localisation of domestic industrial production through Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 promulgated by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the foreign exchange management measures put in place by the central bank.