Zimbabwe’s exports to emerging markets surge
The old adage “do not put all your eggs in one basket” is bearing positive results on Zimbabwe’s trade, with the country recording continued export growth in emerging and non-traditional markets.
This follows repeated calls by President E.D Mnangagwa for local industries to diversify their export products and export markets.
Already, there has been concerted efforts by the Government and ZimTrade – national trade development and promotion organization – to build new and strong partnerships between companies in Zimbabwe and exporters in African markets and beyond.
From these activities, the countries exports have maintained a steady growth this year, thanks to previously non-existent markets importing more from Zimbabwe.
According to statistics recently released by Zimstat, Zimbabwe’s exports grew by 12.8 percent between January-August this year, from US$3,75 billion to US$4.22 billion.
This growth has been anchored by Zimbabwean products finding new markets in countries such as United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, Belgium, and Italy.
Figures show that during the same period under review in 2019, Zimbabwe’s products to United Arab amounted to around US$501 million, and these have grown to US$1,38 billion in 2022.
Exports to China have also grown to around US$454 million during January-August this year, compared to the same period in 2019, where exports amounted to around US$12 million only.
Netherlands, which is Zimbabwe’s largest market for horticultural produce has increased its imports from local exporters, from around US$2,24 million during the period under review in 2019, to US$30,75 million this year.
Italy has also recorded an impressive growth during the period under review, from around US$1,49 million in 2019, to US$40,38 million in 2022.
Zimbabwe’s exports to Belgium have almost doubled from US$47,78 million in 2019, to US$82,26 million this year.
This current new structure in export markets shows Zimbabwe is encouraging as over-reliance on one market is not sustainable.
At the same time, the country has also been growing exports of value-added products.
Exports of manufactured or valued added products increased by 17.6 percent from US$202.3 million recorded during the reviewed period last year, to US$237.8 million this year.
Previously, the country was over dependent on South Africa, which accounted for around 79 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports in 2016.
This is despite that in 1992, 63 percent of Zimbabwe’s total exports was spread across 10 markets.
As exports are growing, Zimbabwe’s imports have also been growing, mainly driven by machinery and equipment, as well as raw materials.
Machinery imports amount to 20 percent of the total import bill, while raw materials imports also increased by 34 percent.
Figures show that imports increased by 15,9 percent to US$5.49 billion, from US$4.74 billion in 2021.
Consequently, the trade deficit increased to US$1.2 billion from US$994 million recorded during the same period in 2021.
Exports of processed foods continue to grow this year, thanks to the increasing popularity of Zimbabwean products in regional markets.
During the period under review, processed foods exports increased by 32 percent from US$43 million in 2021 to US$57 million in 2022.
Countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi have been identified as having potential following participation of local industry in trade promotion events in these markets.
For example, leading buyers at the just ended Botswana Global Expo noted that the market prefers Zimbabwean products due to better taste and high quality compared to what is currently in the market.
Apart from traditional products in the sector such as sugar, products such as milk and milk products, cordials, and biscuits are also growing in exports.
Manufactured tobacco exports increased from US$35,6 million between January-August 2021 to US$41,7 million during same period this year, translating to a 17 percent growth in exports.
The sector is picking given the interest that is coming from regional markets such as Zambia, and Mozambique for Zimbabwe’s manufactured tobacco.
With targeted programmes to penetrate international markets such as Dubai, indications are that exports from the sector will continue to grow.
In addition, agricultural Inputs and Implements exports have increased by 21 percent, up from US$12,6 million in 2021 to US$15.1 million this year.
Major export products from the sector were seeds and spores used for sowing, insecticides, and rodenticides.
Exports in this sector are expected to increase as the 2022/23 farming season kicks in across southern Africa.
Further to this, building and construction total exports stood at US$28 million during the period under review, marginally up from US$27 million recorded in 2021.
Ceramic tiles exports increased from US$4 million in January-August 2021, US$10.3 million this year.
Ceramic tiles being exported by a Mashonaland West based company have sustained the sector as they open new markets in Zambia and South Africa.
Hides and skins exports increased by 43 percent from US$7.7 million during the period under review last year, to US$11 million this year.
Major export products in the sector were raw hides and skins, fresh or preserved, not tanned amounting to US$10.9 million.
Processed leather exports recorded a 19 percent growth, from US$1.2 million to US$1.4 million.
In addition, exports from packaging and stationary sector grew from US$6.3 million between January-August last year, to US$11.2 million in 2022, translating to 77 percent increase.
Major exported products in the sector were cartons, boxes and paperboard, paper and paperboard, corrugated, creped and corrugated, creped in rolls or sheets.
The pharmaceuticals sector saw 25,7 percent boost during this year, recording US$2,06 million compared to US$1,64 million recorded during the same period last year.
There are indications that exports from the sector will continue to grow, driven by increasing demand for Zimbabwean products in regional markets.
Although exports of manufactured products have been growing this year, the country’s total exports are still dominated by raw commodities, which translate to export of value, jobs, and infrastructure.
Figures show that the mining sector’s exports increased from US$3.12 billion between January-August last year, to US$3.47 billion this year.
Major contributors in the sector were gold, nickel ores, platinum, and diamonds.
Unmanufactured tobacco exports also increased from US$348 million last year to US$435 million during the period under review this year.
Clothing and textilesector exports marginally decreased from US$15 million to US$14 million translating to a seven 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 been a notable increase in the export of footwear, which is expected to boost exports from the sector.