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Zimbabwe threatens import restrictions as trade deficit widens

Zimbabwe will soon impose restrictions on imports of selected products in a move meant to protect local industry by suffocating the influx of cheap foreign goods, a cabinet minister said Friday.Industry and Trade Minister Mike Bimha said the government plans to introduce import licences on selected goods as part of measures to contain the country’s widening trade imbalance and protect the struggling manufacturing sector.

“We cannot be importing what we have, and soon the ministry will be introducing import licences on those selected goods,” Bimha told financial news agency The Source on Friday.

Zimbabwe’s trade deficit is expected to widen in 2014, with the import bill is seen reaching US$8.3 billion from US$7.6 billion in 2013 compared to exports of US$5 billion against the US$4.43 billion achieved last year.

The country’s manufacturing sector has complained that the influx of cheap imports was suffocating its operations, which are estimated at around 50 percent of capacity.

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