Zimbabwe’s trade deficit in the year to December 2012 stood at US$3,6 billion after it imported goods worth US$7,48 billion against exports of US$3,88 billion.
According to figures from Zimstat, the country imported mostly fertilisers, diesel, petroleum oils, motor cars, mobile phone handsets and wheat.
The country’s exporting base is mainly in the extractive sector, which includes industrial diamonds, nickel mattes and semi-manufactured gold as well as flue-cured tobacco.
Flue-cured tobacco exports amounted to US$733,9 million in 2012. The tobacco industry Marketing Board put the figure of all tobacco exports including burley, at US$771 million. Gold exports grossed US$624,85 million.
Imports from South Africa amounted to US$3,207 billion, followed by UK at US$1,62 billion, while imports from China were US$354,5 million.
Exports to South Africa totalled US$2,674 billion, representing a trade deficit of US$353 million.
Zimbabwe exported US$482 million worth of goods to the UAE and $282,89 million to Mozambique.
Mozambique has witnessed an economic boom following an increase in foreign direct investment, particularly in the mining sector.
Companies as PPC, PG and BAT export to the country.
Overall, the decline of exports is linked to unreliable supplies and inability to compete on price. In 1992, more than a quarter of firms were exporters. However, according to the World Bank, less than 10% of the firms are now exporting their output.
Generally in Zimbabwe, businesses are not deterred by lack of knowledge of export markets or import barriers. Lack of short-term finance for exports is limiting export-led growth for firms that could potentially compete globally.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has tried to curb imports of goods into the country by introducing import duty on products which are manufactured and are available locally and scrapped the US$300 rebate on some goods which are popular with cross-border traders and introduced duty on them.
Importers of blankets, footwear, refrigerators, stoves and other electrical gadgets now pay 40% of the purchasing price plus a flat rate of US$5 per unit as duty. Government is also now charging between 10% and 25% duty on basic commodities such as maize meal, cooking oil, potato chips, baked beans and mixed fruit jam.