Zimbabwe exports surge

­­­­­­­Zimbabwe’s exports continue to be on the rebound, with the country recording a steep 39 percent export growth between January-April this year, compared to the same period last year.

This follows a sustained upward trend over the past year, that has seen the country exceeding the target of 10 percent export growth required under the National Export Strategy. 

This resurgence in growth is on the back of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement and economic diplomacy approach, that continues to yield positive results on the export front.

Over the past few years, President Mnangagwa has been clear on re-engagement agenda, that the country needs to embrace its relations with countries in Africa and beyond and turn them into economic gains.

This has seen the Second Republic instituting several measures to unlock export opportunities across the world following years of isolation, leveraging on Zimbabwe’s foreign relations, and its position in the region, as well as areas it enjoys competitive and comparative advantage.

Through economic diplomacy, Zimbabwe continues to unlock non-traditional markets, with growing exports to markets such as United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, Belgium, Italy, and Jordan.

Exports to UAE grew by almost 98 percent, from US$359 million in 2021 to US$710 million in 2020, whilst new markets are emerging such as Jordan where Zimbabwe recorded first exports this year, amounting to US$11.5 million.

Coupled with activities implemented by ZimTrade – the country’s trade development and promotion organisation – to develop export capacities of local companies and promote Zimbabwean products beyond the borders, the country is ripping positive results.

According to latest figures released by Zimstat, the country’s exports between January-April this year stood at US$2.13 billion, representing a 39 percent increase compared to US$1.53 billion recorded same period in 2021.

Exports of manufactured or valued added products increased by 32.24 percent from US$85.8 million in April 2021 to US$113.5 million in April 2022.

On the other hand, imports increased by 17.3 percent to US$2.61 billion during the period under review, from US$2.23 billion in 2021.

Consequently, the trade deficit for the period under review stood at US$487 million which is a decrease when compared to a deficit of US$699 million recorded during the same period in 2021.  

From the structure of the country’s imports, it is encouraging that the bulk of imports were raw materials and capital equipment being channelled into the local manufacturing sector to boost production.  

Figures show that total imports between January-April this year were largely machinery and equipment also grew by 11.4 percent from US$434 million last year to US$484 million.

Imports of raw materials, also grew by 53.8 percent from US$279 million last year, to US$429 million this year. 

Other top import products were fuels and electricity, and vehicles and motorcycle and parts.

Big export movers

Processed food exports are showing signs of recovery after a drop in sugar exports in 2021.

During the period under review, processed food exports increased by 41.3 percent from US$16.9 million in 2021 to US$23.98 million in 2022.

In terms of products under the sector, sugar exports increased from US$1.4 million to US$8.22 million whilst baked products exports increased from US$1.8 million to US$2.2 million.

The processed foods sector is one of the key sectors earmarked for continued export growth this year, following increased engagements between Zimbabwean manufacturers and producers in the region and beyond.

During the Zimbabwe Outward Seller Mission to Lubumbashi, organized by ZimTrade recently, participating companies were told of the huge potential of local products in the market.

The buyers indicated that Zimbabwean products are known for better quality that competition and are looking to source from local players if they can match price and sustain demand. 

These are the same sentiments shared by buyers in Dubai during the Zimbabwe-Dubai Business Forum held earlier this year, where potential was noted for products such as cordial drinks, biscuits, sauces and condiments, dairy products, cereals and granola, dried fruits and vegetables, sweets, herbs and spices, and natural oils.

To increase exports of the processed foods into the region, the sector will take part at the Zimbabwe Outward Seller Mission to Manica Province of Mozambique, scheduled for 14-16 June this year.  

Further to this, leather and leather products exports increased by 35.5 percent, from US$626 thousand last year to US$849 thousand under the review period this year.

Exports of hides and skins also grew by 44.67 percent, from US$4.04 million between January-April last year to US$5.84 million during the same period this year.

There have been targeted efforts to expose locally produced leather and leather products to non-traditional markets such as Asian and Middle-Eastern countries.

ZimTrade facilitated for sector players to participate at the Asia-Pacific Leather Fair, which ended on 2 April in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where they engaged with potential buyers from across the world who were impressed by the quality of products that were on offer

In addition, building and construction exports increased from US$11.7 million in 2021 to US$12.5 million in 2022 during the period under review, translating to 7.2 percent increase.

Major exported products in the sector were of unglazed ceramic flags, paving, wall tiles; mozaic cubes which increased from US$1.3 million in April 2021 to US$4.9 million in 2022.

Targeting increased products exports to regional markets such as Botswana, where Zimbabwean have been performing well over the past years will ensure quick wins.

Local manufacturers also need to unlock new markets with potential, such as Mozambique, Malawi, DRC, Namibia, and Angola.

Although export values are still low for the packaging and stationery sector, it has recorded a huge jump in the period under review, with exports growing from US$2.4 million in April 2021 to US$5.7 million in 2022.

The 138 percent growth is indicative of the potential in the sector, where potential lies in products such as cartons, boxes and paperboard, paper and paperboard, and corrugated paper.

Players in the sector looking to increase their exports are encouraged to utilize the Zimbabwe Packaging Portal (https://zimpackaging.co.zw/), which provides a competitive edge for the local manufacturers as they receive recognition from the international market and also an opportunity for supply to new consumers, either in the region or internationally.

Further to this, the manufactured tobacco exports increased from US$15 million in April 2021 to US$21.3 million in 2022.

The mining sector which is the country’s largest foreign currency earner grew by 30.6 percent from US$1.29 billion in April 2021 to US$1.684 billion in April 2022.

Increasing and improving value-addition of minerals will not only allow the country to realise full value from the mineral exports, but will also create jobs, and improve livelihoods of its people.

Unmanufactured tobacco exports also increased from US$129.5 million to US$298.3 million in 2022.


The horticulture sector exports decreased by 10 percent in April 2022 to US$13.1 million down from US$14.6 million same period the previous year.

Targeted export capacity development and promotion programmes for the sector by ZimTrade are expected to improve exports as the year progress.

ZimTrade has so far facilitated for sector players to take part in two global exhibitions, the Fruit Logistica that took place in Germany, and MacFrut Fair in Italy and participating exporters engaged buyers who indicated willingness to source from Zimbabwe, with a key focus on organic produce.

The sector players will also take part at the Zimbabwe Outward Seller Mission to the United Kingdom (UK) that will be held later this year.

UK remains Zimbabwe’s leading importer of fresh produce.

Arts and crafts exports decreased by 12.5 percent, that is from US$3.04 million in April 2021 to US$2.7 million in 2022.

Collections and collector’s pieces of zoological were major exports recording US$1.9 million down from US$2.8 million recorded in 2021.

Aquaculture exports continues to decline in new year as exports declined by 35 percent during the period under review from US$364,000 to US$236,000 in 2022.

During the same period in 2019 the sector exported US$2.4 million going down to US$1.9 million in 2020, clearly showing the negative effects of covid 19 pandemic on cold-chain supply as most of the Asian markets gazette stringent requirements for exports to that market.



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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