ZIMBABWE exports slipped 1.5% in the first five months of 2020 to US$1.53bn from US$1.56bn during the same period last year due to lockdown restrictions caused by the Covid- 19 pandemic.
The development comes after most countries closed their borders in March and April to contain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Consequently, a number of businesses have failed to recover from the effects of Covid-19 as companies were already reeling with foreign currency challenges and high cost of living.
ZimTrade chief executive, Allan Majuru told Business Times that Zimbabwe’s exports were dominated by primary commodities such as semi manufactured gold, nickel mattes and flue-cured tobacco.
“For the period between January and May 2020, the country’s exports stood at US$1.53bn which was 1.5% lower than the US$1.56bn recorded in the same period in 2019. Imports declined by 4.4% to US$1.88bn from US$1.96bn in 2019.
“Resultantly the trade deficit went down by 15.6% from US$403 million in 2019 to US$340 million in 2020,” Majuru said.
Zimbabwe’s exports were dominated by primary commodities such as semi-manufactured gold (26%), nickel mattes (20%), flue-cured tobacco (16%), ferrochromium (5%), jewellery (4%), diamond 3% and platinum 2%. Zimbabwe’s major export destinations for the period were South Africa (43%), United Arab Emirates (26%), Mozambique (9%), Belgium (2%), Zambia (1%), Botswana (1%) and Kenya 1% among others.
Mineral exports stood at US$1.128bn in 2019 and this contributed 73.6% to total exports and this is primarily gold (US$400m), nickel mattes (US$308m), diamonds (US$43m) and platinum (US$32m).
The January 2020 mineral export performance was 2.7% lower than the same period in 2019.
During the initial period of lockdown, the sector was exempted from shutdown hence the domestic impact of the shutdown was minimised.
The 2020 tobacco selling season is currently underway and the exports of unmanufactured tobacco have increased by 17.4% to US$249m in January to May 2020 period from US$212m during the same period in 2019.
Farmers are set to benefit from the auctioning system of foreign currency which was implemented on May 23, 2020.
Economist Gift Mugano said Zimbabwe’s imports are largely composed of production enablers such as raw materials, consumables, machinery and equipment, fuels and energy as well as finished products such as pharmaceuticals, processed foods, and clothing among others.
“The government must move to produce locally in order to cut trade deficit or break even. We should not continue importing crude oil, maize, rice, potatoes, and spaghetti among other basic goods when we have the best climate for production of those crops,” Mugano said.