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‘Liquidity crunch result of negative trade balance’

THE cash problems that are currently prevailing in the country are partly as a result of the negative trade balance which stands at US$1,768 billion, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha has said.

BY CHRISTOPHER MAHOVE

“According to the Monetary Policy Statement released by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on August 25 2014, we exported $1,228 billion of merchandise as at 30 June 2014 (manufactured goods), but imported US$3 billion of merchandise as at 30 June 2014,” he said.

“Thus, for every dollar that we earned in exports, we spent US$2,43 on imports. Consequently, we had a negative trade balance of US$1,768 billion. This deficit is partly the source of our liquidity problems,” Bimha said at the Zimtrade annual exporters’ conference last week.

Bimha said the country needed to increase its export earnings in order to stem demand for imported goods, but however, noted that this required that the country also produce goods that are not only attractive to the export market, but also to the local market.

“The creation of a national brand is, therefore, a critical deliverable in the process of promoting our exports and investments,” he said.

The influx of imports has killed local industries that are failing to compete with imported products.

The cost of production locally is high due to other costs, such as the required investment in alternative energy sources in the wake of power cuts.

This ultimately makes local products uncompetitive.

In his mid-term fiscal policy review, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government acknowledges efforts to promote the consumption of local products.

“Government, on its part, is instituting measures to align public sector procurement arrangements to the Buy Zimbabwe campaign as necessary on its consumables and those of institutions drawing on the public purse,” Chinamasa said.

Bimha said the conference, under the theme Creating Brand Zimbabwe had come at an opportune time when the country needed unity of purpose to re-brand after the battering of its image in the international media during the last 15 years.

Bimha pointed out that the involvement of the informal sector in building Brand Zimbabwe was vital as they played a critical role in the creation of jobs and export of products.

“Industry stakeholders have a collective responsibility to ensure that SME’s are provided with the necessary support and technical assistance for their effective participation in export business,” Bimha said, adding that SME’s had the potential to develop and become meaningful contributors to GDP and exports.

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