Exports continue to grow

THE economic diplomacy agenda being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa’s administration is bearing fruit as the country continues to record positive export growth, testament to the world warming up to Zimbabwean products.

According to data released by ZimStat in 2021, the country’s exports grew by 47,46 percent to US$3,75 billion between January and August from US$2,54 billion recorded during the same period last year.

This huge increase follows spirited re-engagement efforts undertaken by the Second Republic to integrate Zimbabwe into Africa and world trade systems following years of isolation, as well as increased export promotion activities undertaken this year by ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion agency.

Although primary commodities still dominate Zimbabwe’s basket of exports, value-added products and services have made major strides, growing by 27,99 percent, from US$220,8 million in 2020 to US$282,6 million in 2021.

This growth was supported by improved external trade in the clothing and textile, building and construction material, household and electric goods, as well as the arts and crafts sectors.

On the other hand, imports increased by 43 percent to US$4,74 billion from US$3,31 billion in 2020.

Consequently, the trade deficit for the period under review stood at US$994,33 million, an increase compared to a deficit of US$774,22 million recorded during the same period in 2020.

The increased import figures can be attributed to the improving manufacturing sector, which has witnessed local industries importing diversified raw materials to meet production requirements.

Statistics show that during the period under review, the country’s imports were largely composed of raw materials, machinery and equipment.

Raw material imports totalled US$1,06 billion, an increase of 70,2 percent from US$621 million recorded last year.

Imports of machinery and equipment also went up by 61,2 percent from US$630 million recorded last year to US$1,02 billion during the period under review this year.

Biggest winners

The textile and footwear industry is undergoing a remarkable recovery on the export front, with more products penetrating regional markets.

Between January and August 2021, this sector’s exports grew by 85 percent to US$32,3 million in 2021 from US$17,7 million in 2020.

This follows increased demand for Zimbabwean products such as protective clothing in regional markets such as Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An increasing number of buyers are looking to source protective clothing from Zimbabwe on account of the superior quality of local products and the unlocking of new markets.

Projections are that exports from the sector will continue to grow.

The household goods and furniture sectors also registered a positive growth in exports of 54 percent from US$10,8 million recorded in 2020 to US$16,8 million.

The export of brushes and mechanical sweepers accounted for the biggest jump in the sector to US$3,7 million in 2021, from just US$1 000 in 2020.

With more players producing such products, especially small and medium enterprises, the country should be able to realise more export earnings from the household goods and furniture sector.

Other major exports from the sector during the period under review were plastic articles (US$3,6 million), and kitchen tables (US$3,4 million).

Business engagement programmes organised by ZimTrade to create sustainable and direct links between local artists and buyers in international markets has resulted in a 92,4 percent export growth in the arts and crafts sector.

This sector’s exports rose to US$5,2 million during the period under review in 2021 from US$2,7 million.

Given the ongoing export promotion activities in the sector, it is projected that exports will continue to grow.

During the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, held from November 15-21, 2021 in Durban, South Africa, five of the participating companies were drawn from this sector, with some coming from rural communities in Matabeleland North and South, and Mashonaland East.

This integration of rural communities into mainstream export business, in line with the devolution agenda being fronted by the Government, is expected to see an influx of Zimbabwean products in regional and international markets.

The sector is also participating at the Dubai 2020 Expo which began on October 1, and runs through to March 2022.

In addition, the building and construction sector recorded a significant increase of 43 percent in exports from US$21,1 million in 2020 to US$30,4 million in 2021.

Given the new policy measures that have been adopted to encourage local production as a response to imports, projections are that the sector will continue recording a positive export balance this year.

Increased production, coupled with participation at regional trade promotion events will allow local companies unlock more opportunities in the sector.

Already, buyers in countries like Botswana prefer building and construction products from Zimbabwe, which are known to be durable and strong.

These buyers have indicated that Zimbabwean suppliers must ensure that they have enough capacity to sustain anticipated high demand of locally produced building and construction products.


While the overall export figures increased, there are some sectors that recorded declines during the period under review.

The biggest loser was the aquaculture sector where exports declined significantly by 67 percent to US$0,794 million in 2021 from US$2,2 million in 2020.

The major contributors to the decline were live fish and frozen fish exports. Processed food exports also declined by 45 percent to US$42,8 million down from US$77,5 million in 2020.

The sector is, however, expected to rebound as local companies are making inroads into regional markets such as Zambia, Malawi, DRC, and Tanzania.

Processed foods exports into South Africa are also expected to grow because products currently present in the market are competing well against other imported products.

Other sectors that recorded a decline include livestock and livestock products where exports declined by 20 percent from US$2,9 million in 2020 to US$2,3 million in 2021.

Hides and skins exports decreased by 10 percent from US$8,8 million in 2020 to US$7,9 million in 2021 during the period under review.

The major export decline was in raw hides and skins, fresh or preserved, not tanned excluding bovine.

In addition, manufactured tobacco exports decreased by 8,3 percent to US$32 million during the period under from US$34,9 million in 2020.



188 Sam Nujoma Street Avondale Harare, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-4 369330-41, 263-867700074

E-mail: info@zimtrade.co.zw


48 Josiah Tongogara Street Btwn 3rd and 4th Avenue Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Tel: 263-9 66151, 62378, 263-8677000378

E-mail: info@zimtrade.co.zw

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