Zim exports up 18 percent
Zimbabwe’s exports continue to be on an upward trend as the economic diplomacy being implemented by President Mnangagwa’s Government continue to bear fruits.
According to statistics recently released by Zimstat, the country’s exports have grown by 18,4 percent between January-July this year, compared to the same period last year.
In terms of value, total exports of products and services between January-July this year stood at US$3,73 billion, compared to US$3.15 billion recorded same period in 2021.
Exports of manufactured or valued-added products have also grown by 19,6 percent, against the target of 10 percent that is espoused in the National Export Strategy and National Trade Policy.
Between January-July this year, exports of value-added products amounted to US$206,1 million, compared to U$172,4 million recorded during the same period last year.
This growth is on the back of spirited efforts by the Second Republic to transform Zimbabwe’s relations with countries in the region and beyond into economic gains, that will propel the country into an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
Implemented through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Government has been strengthening bilateral relations with other countries to ensure Zimbabwe can be fully integrated into global supply chains.
Compounded by increased trade development and promotion activities undertaken by ZimTrade between January to date, there has been an enhanced visibility of Zimbabwean products and service in traditional markets, as well as entry into new markets.
These promotional activities have also seen an increased demand for Zimbabwean products across the world.
On the other hand, imports increased by 17 percent to US$4.8 billion from US$4,1 billion in 2021.
The increase in imports is driven by the growth in production, which has seen the manufacturing sector sourcing more raw materials.
Consequently, the trade deficit for the period under review stood at US$1,1 billion which is an increase when compared to a deficit of US$962 million recorded during the same period in 2021.
In terms of markets, efforts to diversify export markets are bearing fruits, as the distribution is spreading across the world.
During the period under review exports to South Africa decreased from US$1,8 billion to US$1,5 billion whilst exports to UAE increased by from US$802 million to US$1,2 billion.
Exports to China are increasing, from US$3 million in 2021 to US$422 million in 2022, showing that companies are now exporting directly to China.
Exports to Netherlands have also grown during the period under review, from US$3,29 million in 2021, to US$28,33 million this year.
Share of exports to Italy have also made a huge jump this year, recording US$36,83 million, against around US$551 thousand recorded last year.
Processed foods sector is demonstrating potential and can be targeted for export growth.
During the period under review processed foods exports increased by 35 percent from US$35,2 million in Jul 2021 to US$47,5 million in Jul 2022.
Major exporters products in the sector were sugar US$18 million, pastry products US$4 million, malt US$2,1 million and fruit juices US$2 million.
The demand for Zimbabwe’s processed foods is growing in the region, and local companies can capitalize on the current momentum to introduce more products.
During engagements with buyers in Mozambique, during the Maputo International Trade Fair held recently, participating companies were told that the market prefers the better quality and taste of Zimbabwean products.
Here, they were advised to work on a competitive price that will make it easy to compete with products that are coming from as far as Europe and Asia.
International markets such as United Kingdom and Dubai are also targeted for growing exports from the sector.
Further to this, hides and skins exports increased by 39 percent from US$7.7 million in January-July 2021 to US$10.7 million during the same period in 2022.
Major export product in the sector were raw hides and skins, fresh or preserved, not tanned amounting to US$10.7 million.
At the same time, leather exports recorded a marginal growth, from US$1.1 million to US$1.4 million translating to 29 percent increase.
Considering that the sector recorded a decrease in the year 2021, the growth between January-July this year shows indications of recovery.
Apart from current markets, there are efforts to penetrate new markets that will help grow exports from the sector.
For example, a market survey conducted by ZimTrade in Ghana this year revealed opportunities for processed leather in the market, which can be used as an entry into the rest of West Africa.
Manufactured tobacco exports also recorded a jump, from US$31.8 million during period under review in 2021 to US$35.4 million in 2022 translating to 11 percent growth.
ZimTrade continues to assist the sector to break into the Middle East where there is potential for the sector to do well.
Regional markets such as Mozambique, Angola, and Democratic Republic of Congo are potential markets for the sector.
In addition to this, exports from the building and constructions sector stood at US$23.4 million during the period under review, marginally up from US$23.2 million recorded in 2021.
The sustained growth from the sector has been anchored on ceramic tiles exports, which increased from US$3.2 million in Jul 2021 to US$9 million in 2022 following opening of new markets such as Zambia and South Africa.
Packaging and stationery sector’s exports increased from US$5.5 million between January-July 2021 to US$10.4 million during same period in Jul 2022 translating to 89 percent growth.
Major exported products in the sector were cartons, boxes and paperboard, paper and paperboard, corrugated, creped (US$6 million) and corrugated, creped in rolls or sheets (US$3.7 million).
Although exports from value added products are growing, it is important to note that primary commodities still dominate national exports, which is not sustainable as this translate to exporting value, jobs, and development.
During the period under review, exports from the mining sector stood at US$3,07 billion, with major export products being gold, nickel ores, platinum, and diamonds.
Exports of unmanufactured tobacco stood at US$389 million during the period under review.
The clothing and textilesector exports marginally decreased from US$12,9 million to US$12,2 million translating to five percent decrease during the period under review.
Major exports in the sector were men’s or boys’ suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers and trousers.
There has however been notable increase in the export of footwear from the clothing sector.
Exports of household and office furniture also recorded a decline during the period under review, from US$11,96 million last year, to US$10,85 million this year.