BULAWAYO, June 16 (The Source) — Zimbabwe registered a 19 percent decline in exports in the first five months of the year, reflecting a significant slow-down in the economy, trade figures from the national statistics agency showed on Thursday.
Data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) on Thursday shows that exports to May amounted to $949 million against $2,07 billion imports, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products following a significant drop in raw materials importation.
Total imports also declined by 13 percent of the same period.
In the corresponding period of 2015, Zimbabwe’s exports stood at $1,177 billion, while imports were $2,38 billion, according to Zimstat figures.
Most of the imports are consumptive products such as bottled water, sugar, soap, cooking oil, cellphone handsets, electronics, vehicles spares, clothing and second hand vehicles, which account for over 70 percent of the import bill.
Zimbabwe’s exports include beef, tobacco and other agricultural produce as well as wines, minerals and scrap metal, Zimstat said.
Last year, the southern African nation’s total imports were $2.7 billion against imports of $6 billion, giving a $3.3 billion gap. The country’s exports have declined from $3.9 billion in 2012, while imports have also come off from $7.5 billion that year, Zimstat data shows.
The decline is largely attributed to the weakening of commodity prices, which make up the bulk of Zimbabwe’s exports, since 2012.
Last month, in a bid to boost flagging exports, the central bank announced a $200 million incentive to be paid out in bond notes whose value is tied to the United States dollar.
The move has drawn widespread criticism from industry and consumers who fear a return to a much-loathed local currency, which was replaced in 2009 by a basket of foreign currencies – chiefly the US dollar and South Africa’s rand – after hyperinflation rendered it worthless.