ZAMBIA’S inflation rate marginally dropped to 21.8 per cent in April from 22.2 per cent last month, mainly driven by a decrease in prices of electricity and fuel, while essential commodities like mealie-meal saw a jump.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s imports have continued to exceed exports as the country recorded its biggest trade deficit of K800 million in March, Central Statistical Office data has revealed.
The CSO yesterday stated that, “The annual rate of inflation decreased for clothing and footwear; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels. Of the 21.8 per cent annual inflation rate recorded in April 2016, food and non-alcoholic beverage products accounted for 13.7 percentage points, while non-food products accounted for 8.1 percentage points.”
However, national average prices of essential commodities such as mealie-meal saw a jump, with 25Kg breakfast bags now costing K87.04 in April, from K85.25 last month, while other foodstuffs such as eggs, tomatoes and sugar all recorded notable increases.
Meanwhile, Zambia recorded an increased trade deficit of K800.9 million in March, the highest so far this year.
A trade deficit represents an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets.
Market analysts have noted that high trade deficits could have a bearing on the country’s economic recovery prospects.
“Zambia recorded a trade deficit in March 2016 valued at K800.9 million. This represents a 17.8 per cent increase in the trade deficit from K679.8 million recorded in February 2016. This means that the country imported more in March 2016 than it exported in nominal terms,” CSO director John Kalumbi told journalists at Lusaka’s Government Complex yesterday during the monthly brief.
According to CSO data, consumer and capital goods still constitute the largest proportion, collectively accounting for 68.4 per cent of imports into the country, above raw materials and intermediate goods.
“The major source of imports in March 2016 was South Africa, accounting for 34.9 per cent. The major import products were telephones for cellular networks or other wireless networks contributing 15.8 per cent,” CSO stated.