By Alois Vinga
A Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), report says that both exports and imports went down by over 20 percent in the month of January 2019 in a development signaling a slowdown in business activity in the country.
In its latest Monthly Economic Review for January 2019, the RBZ, reveals that exports declined by 20 percent to US$293 million, compared to US$365 million recorded in the previous month.
The developments have been attributed to declines in exports of flue-cured tobacco, ferro-chrome, chromium ores – concentrates, diamonds, cotton and platinum.
During the month under review, merchandise imports declined by 32% to US$336.8 million. Energy imports diesel, petrol and electricity accounted for the highest proportion of total merchandise imports, at 30 percent.
Total merchandise trade for January 2019 amounted to US$629.4 million, down from US$860 million recorded in December 2018.The decline was attributed on account of a slowdown in both merchandise exports and imports.
The country’s top merchandise export destinations in January 2019 were South Africa 53%, the United Arab Emirates 14%, Mozambique 7%, Kenya and Zambia 1%.
The country sourced imports mainly from Singapore, 31%, South Africa, 28%, China 11%; United Kingdom 4.4%; and Mauritius 3%.
Recently the country’s business community, raised alarm that the conditions of trade had seriously deteriorated due to inaccessibility of foreign currency.
Early this year, the Central Bank introduced an interbank currency exchange market, aimed at creating easy access to hard currencies but this seems to have failed.
An RBZ official was booed off stage last week at a Zimbabwe Council of Churches dialogue seminar after he claimed the economy was on the rebound and the country was in a better position than it was during the hyperinflationary era in 2008.