CLEARING and forwarding agents at the Forbes Border Post in Mutare are reeling under the effects of the Coronavirus Covid-19) in China that has caused a drastic decline in trade volumes as importers have reduced business dealings with the Asian country.
Zimbabwe enjoys fruitful trade relations with China that has seen the country posting a trade surplus of US$445 million in 2018.
The Forbes Border Post handles a big chunk of the imports and exports due to its proximity to the port of Beira in Mozambique.
When Business Post visited the border yesterday morning there was little activity.
“We are handling few clients these days because of the coronavirus.
“A lot of companies import goods from China and they use the port of Beira.
“China has suspended trade until the virus is contained, which means that there is less activity at the port of Beira. This entails low business for us since this border is the closest point of entry into the country.
“As you can see we are doing nothing here and we hope that the situation will be contained quickly,” said a clearing agent, Shingai Chahwanda.
A Zimra official who requested anonymity citing protocol said trade volumes were now low at the border.
“Zimbabwe exports a lot of things to China including tobacco and various other products. The Forbes Border Post is the closest gateway to the sea and most of these products pass through here. At the same time our local companies, including the Government, import plenty of things from the Asian country. For example, in recent months both the Government and local business people were importing buses from China.
The bulk of these buses came through via the port of Beira and they entered the country through here.
“The coronavirus has disrupted this trade and the economic and financial implications of this virus cannot be overemphasised. The few Chinese products that are still trickling into the country are coming from warehouses in Beira. If they get finished while China has not fully controlled the virus no imports will come our way,” he said.