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).