Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’s exports increased by 46 percent to $329,6 million in the first four months of the year compared to $225,6 million during the comparable period last year, official trade figures show.
The improved export performance during the period under review is largely attributed to a raft of measures the Government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have announced to boost domestic output and tame the trade imbalance.
Data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) also indicates that month-on-month exports figures in April this year improved by 14,2 percent to $329,6 million last month from $288,6 million in March. During the period under review, the country’s exports were largely agricultural produce and minerals while the imports comprised woven fabric, synthetic fibre, canvas and ornamental trimmings among others.
Last month, South Africa, which is the country’s largest trading partner, imported $149,4 million up from $120,9 million in March, worth of goods from Zimbabwe.
Imports from South Africa were largely capital goods such as vehicles, medical and surgical apparatus as well as electrical equipment such as electric accumulators.
Since the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009, concerted efforts were being made by various stakeholders including the Government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to drive the economy towards an export-led growth. Although Zimbabwe reduced its trade deficit by 25 percent last year to $1,5 billion, a lot still needs to be done with Government this year targeting to further reduce the trade balance to less than $1 billion.
According to a recent report by the United Nations, Zimbabwe is among the developing countries that heavily rely on commodity exports due to limited diversification of their economies. And due to suppressed production, Zimbabwe also relies on importing key raw materials for its industry, which drains the scarce foreign exchange in the economy. As such, experts have stressed the need to adopt a value chain approach and import substitution models under the value addition and beneficiation thrust so as to ensure production of high value end products. Value addition and beneficiation is a key component of the country’s economic blue-print, Zim-Asset.
Government has also called on players in different sectors of the economy to stimulate productivity to enhance exports and create more jobs. In 2016, the RBZ introduced a five percent export incentive bonus scheme, which has since been raised to 12 percent for top exporters across different sectors of the economy with a view to encouraging companies to export. Exports are a major source of liquidity for overall economic activity.