Zimbabwe Grapples with US$6.8 Billion Trade Deficit, a Concern Raised by Buy Zimbabwe

February 25, 2024
buy zimbabwe | Report Focus News
Buy Zimbabwe Chairman stressed the pivotal role of addressing the trade deficit in broader developmental goals.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a staggering negative trade deficit of US$6.8 billion over the last four years, as highlighted by Buy Zimbabwe, a group advocating for the consumption of domestic products.

“We’ve been operating with a negative trade balance, with imports exceeding exports, totalling US$31 billion against exports of US$24.2 billion from 2020 to 2023,” stated Buy Zimbabwe.

Despite export growth from US$4.3 billion to US$7.2 billion during this period, imports surged from US$5.6 billion to US$9.2 billion. Buy Zimbabwe deems this trend unsustainable and calls for a focused effort to boost local production for sustainable national development.

Munyaradzi Hwengwere, Chairman of Buy Zimbabwe, pointed out, “There’s a concerning surge in the appetite for imports, causing a widening gap. Most exports are of un-beneficiated primary products, while imports, especially petroleum products, are value-added goods.”

Highlighting the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), aimed at achieving upper-middle-income status by 2030, Hwengwere stressed the pivotal role of addressing the trade deficit in broader developmental goals.

Hwengwere urged, “Concerted efforts by government, business, and labour are required. Positive GDP growth shows the country’s ability to reverse economic stagnation.”

Buy Zimbabwe’s general manager, Alois Burutsa, emphasized the need to enhance local productive capacity, stating, “AFCTA has set stringent local content conditions. Without a robust buy local initiative, the opportunities in Africa will be missed.”

Burutsa added, “For 2024, our programs focus on accelerated engagement with the public sector, achieving 80% top-of-mind awareness, developing a local database, and implementing local content rating programs.”

Buy Zimbabwe estimates 10% to 15% of Zimbabwe’s GDP goes through public procurement. Burutsa acknowledged the preference for domestic suppliers but highlighted the vulnerability to imports due to the lack of local content thresholds.

“We are glad that the government is committed to addressing this gap. As the Buy Zimbabwe secretariat, we aim to accelerate buy local initiatives.”

To win support for local products, Buy Zimbabwe plans monthly campaigns with partners such as CZI, universities, schools, and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. A dedicated Buy Zimbabwe week campaign in November educates consumers on identifying and supporting local products.

Buy Zimbabwe envisions building an electronic database containing information on all companies in Zimbabwe to facilitate timely alerts for potential business opportunities in both public and private sectors.