ECONOMIC expert Vince Musewe has slammed the quality of Zimbabwe’s current imports and exports saying they lack the potential to turnaround the country’s economic fortunes.
The reactions come against a background where the ZIMSTAT’s monthly summary of external trade statistics for the period of March 2022 shows that mineral fuels and mineral oil products stood at 15,1% in January 2022, compared to 21,5% in December 2021.
The report shows that this was followed by machinery and equipment at 10,2%, fertilizer(11,8%, pharmaceuticals 8,9%, vehicles 7,8%, electrical machinery and equipment 5,1%, plastics 4,5%, animal and vegetable fats and oils 3,8%, and cereals 2,4%.
Notably, major imports in Zimbabwe were aggregated to reach 92, 8% in January 2022. Cereal imports, including maize, decreased to 2, 4 % in January 2022 from 3, 1% in December 2021.
Rice, which makes the bulk of cereal imports, constituted 1, 9% in January 2022 compared to 2, 7% in December, 2021.
The statistics agency report also shows that the export list is still dominated by raw minerals, semi manufactured gold (34,6%), nickel mattes including platinum group of minerals (PGMs) (14%), nickel ores and concentrates (10,7%), tobacco (21,6%), ferro-chromium (5,2%), platinum, unwrought or in powder form (2,3%) and cotton (1,6%).
Analyzing the trends Musewe said industry required much deeper strategies to strengthen the country’s exports and imports.
“You can judge the sophistication of an economy by the type of imports and exports. We can obviously see that most of our exports are raw materials that are not processed and value added.
“What this means is that we are effectively exporting jobs. On the other hand we are importing things that we can actually make here,” he said.
Musewe said the country should be able to import things like pharmaceuticals and other simple machinery and equipment.
“You will also note that the share of machinery we are importing at 10% and in any case if we are to seriously industrialize we may need to increase the share of machinery to boost local manufacturing,” he said.
He also argued that beyond the borders, countries like Kenya are importing over 60% machinery and equipment and raised concerns that the country’s import structure reflects a non-industrialized economy which cannot create enough jobs and incomes.
President Mnangagwa has often called for local mineral beneficiation and value addition, saying this would help boost earnings and create more jobs for the country.