HomeBusiness DigestExports to SA hit US$200 million high

Economists dispute 9,4% growth rate

“NEW stamps, stamp-impressed paper, cheque forms and bank notes” have pushed Zimbabwe’s all commodities exports to South Africa to a new high of US$200 million as government projects a decline in exports.

Information made available by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) has shown that commodities exports to the country’s major trading partner grew US$272 million in October compared to US$57 million recorded in January. This was buoyed by “paper” exports.
Nickel ores followed a distant second accounting for 10% of exports made during the period under review.
Nickel ores and concentrates; semi manufactured gold; tobacco and monetary gold were also among the top foreign currency earners in the same month.
Granite, air pumps, table linen of cotton, electric conductors and chewing gum among other commodities were the least contributors, accounting for 0,01% of the exports.
Imports according to the CSO figures dropped to US$217 million from US$302 million recorded at the beginning of the year. Petroleum oils; “other personal effects”; vehicles and maize seed were the major commodities imported from South Africa.
Trade between Zimbabwe and Zambia according to CSO figures shifted in favour of the latter as shown by declining exports and an increase in imports from the northern neighbour. Zimbabwe imported commodities worth US$10,7 million from Zambia compared to US$6 million in imports.
Exports to Britain jumped from over US$2million in January to US$13,8 million in October after Mozambique. Zimbabwe according to official statistics continued to be a net importer of Chinese products as reflected by US$6 million exports while exports accounted for US$500 million in October. 
Finance minister Tendai Biti told parliament during the budget presentation this week projected a slump in trade.
“The country’s exports shipments over the period January to October 2009 are expected to decline by 17,7% from US$1,2 billion to US$1 billion, primarily reflecting a decline in agricultural exports,” Biti said.
“Imports are expected to decline by 15% from US$1,5 billion to US$1,3 billion over the same period.” After admitting that the manufacturing sector would fail to meet the 60% capacity growth projected in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Plan, Zimbabwe will continue to be a major importer of food, electricity and fuels, chemicals, manufactured goods and machinery.
Independent economic and planning consultant, Daniel Ndlela said government should restore the country’s dilapidated infrastructure and uphold property rights to promote trade. On whether Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth would boost trade between Harare and London, he said: “Surely joining the Commonwealth has nothing to do with increasing trade volumes at least directly since Zimbabwe was not on trade sanctions with the UK, the EU or the rest of the world. A quick addition of the figures shows that in the recent months — August, September and October —Zimbabwe has exported more to the UK than we have imported from there, which is a good sign.”

Bernard Mpofu

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