The government is expecting a further drop in the import bill during the second quarter as capacity for local firms to sustain the local market requirements improve.

The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Mike Bimha, who has in the past three months been involved on a fact finding mission to assess the impact of the gazetted import protectionist policies on industrial growth, recently told the ZBC News that the manufacturing sector is slowly emerging out of the operating difficulties characterised by improved supplies of locally produced commodities in the formal markets.

Dr Bimha said the recovery of the manufacturing sector has also led to the sudden continuous drop in the volume of imports with focus now being on the need to concentrate on exports in order to earn the much needed foreign currency to sustain existing operations,.

“What we now need is that path to focus on exports because from my assessment we are really having a drop in the volume of exports,” he said.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), the country has since June last year experienced a steady drop in the level of the overall import bill.

Figures from the treasury also indicate that merchandise imports for January to December 2016 dropped by 11,7 percent to US$5,3 billion compared to US$6,6 billion in 2015.