IMF: Zimbabwe economic situation ‘very difficult’

Zimbabweans read morning newspapers a day after President Robert Mugabe resigned. (AP)
Updated 23 November 2017
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IMF: Zimbabwe economic situation ‘very difficult’

JOHANNESBURG: Zimbabwe’s economic growth is threatened by high government spending, an untenable foreign exchange regime and inadequate reforms, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said.
Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but suffered decades of decline as former President Robert Mugabe pursued policies that included the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms and money-printing that led to hyperinflation.
Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday after nearly four decades in power following pressure from the military, the ruling ZANU-PF party and the general population.
Zimbabwe has not been able to borrow from international lenders since 1999 when it started defaulting on its debt, and has $1.75 billion rand in foreign arrears. “The economic situation in Zimbabwe remains very difficult,” Gene Leon, IMF’s mission chief for Zimbabwe, said in a statement to Reuters.
“Immediate action is critical to reduce the deficit to a sustainable level, accelerate structural reforms, and re-engage with the international community to access much needed financial support.”
Leon said Zimbabwe should resolve arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank, among other reforms, for the IMF to consider future financing requests from the country.
Zimbabwe should also be ready to implement strong macroeconomic policies and structural reforms to restore fiscal and debt sustainability, Leon said.


China sorghum imports jump after Beijing dropped probe into US shipments: Customs

Updated 23 July 2018
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China sorghum imports jump after Beijing dropped probe into US shipments: Customs

  • China brought in 450,000 tons of sorghum in June, up from last year’s 324,301 tons
  • Corn buyers, meanwhile, scooped up cargoes on worries over the return of US-China trade policy tit-for-tat amid high domestic prices

BEIJING: China’s sorghum imports in June surged 38.1 percent on year, boosted by a temporary easing of Sino-US trade tensions, while corn imports for the month rose to one of highest levels in the past decade, customs data showed on Monday.
China brought in 450,000 tons of sorghum in June, up from last year’s 324,301 tons. Volumes were still down slightly from 470,000 tons in May, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Beijing announced in mid-April that importers of sorghum from the United States would have to put up a 178.6 percent deposit on the value of shipments. Several cargoes already on the way changed course and were diverted to other markets.
A month later in a goodwill measure, however, China dropped the deposit and an anti-dumping probe into US sorghum imports as the two sides appeared to be reaching consensus on resolving trade issues.
“Some cargoes were already on the way to China when Beijing dropped the deposit. Then they cleared customs in weeks after. That should have pushed up the June volumes,” said Cherry Zhang, an analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligent Co. Ltd, before the data release.
Corn buyers, meanwhile, scooped up cargoes on worries over the return of US-China trade policy tit-for-tat amid high domestic prices.
Corn imports in June hit 520,000 tons, up 34.6 percent from a year ago and the second highest since July last year. The figures were down from 760,000 tons in May, the data showed.
The corn imports in the first six months tripled to 2.21 million tons, already close to China’s total 2017 purchase of 2.82 million tons of the grain, according to the data.
“There were margins importing corn as domestic corn prices were relatively high. And buyers were buying more corn in recent couple of months to prepare for the Sino-US trade tension in advance,” said Meng Jinhui, an analyst with Shengda Futures.
UScorn and sorghum shipments to China should drop significantly in July and August, analysts and traders said, as Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on US grains on July 6.
China buys almost all its sorghum imports from the United States.
In the first half of this year, China has brought in 3.25 million tons of sorghum, up 8.7 percent from the same period of 2017, the data showed.
China also brought in 590,000 tons of barley in June, down 5.6 percent from a year ago. Barley imports for the first half of the year were at 4.4 million tons, down 2.7 percent.
Wheat imports were at 310,000 tons in June, down 33.6 percent from a year ago. Wheat imports for the first half were at 1.95 million tons, down 26.4 percent, the data showed.
China bought 280,000 tons of sugar and 98,566 tons of pork in June. In the first half of the year, China’s sugar imports were at 1.38 million tons, and shipments of pork were at 647,985 tons, both down from last year’s levels.