Economy

Zim exports to tumble

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Zimbabwe’s total exports are projected to fall by 5% this year to US$3.99bn amid continued uncertainty due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, ZimTrade has warned.

Last year, Zimbabwe’s total exports were US$4.2bn.

ZimTrade said the country’s exports grew by 4.9% to US$2.563bn during the first eight months of 2020 from US$2.442bn recorded in the same period in 2019.

ZimTrade chief executive Allan Majuru told Business Times that Zimbabwe’s exports will be mainly dominated by primary commodities such as semi-manufactured gold, unmanufactured tobacco, nickel mattes, nickel ores and concentrates, ferrochromium, jewellery, diamond, platinum and cane sugar.

“Total exports forecast are projected at US$3.997bn for December 2020 with lower confidence bounds projecting the exports of US$3.33bn for December 2020 while upper confidence bound projects total exports of US$4.62bn as at December 2020,” Majuru said.

Zimbabwe’s exports were dominated by gold at 25% with nickel mattes at 24% and unmanufactured tobacco at 13%.

Zimbabwe’s major export destinations for the period were South Africa (36%), United Arab Emirates (22%), Mozambique (9%), Uganda (3%), Belgium (2%), Zambia (1%), and Kenya 1% among others. Mineral exports stood at US$1.981bn during the period under review and this contributed 77% to total exports.

This was primarily gold which racked in US$645m, nickel mattes (US$605m), chrome US$88m, diamonds (US$71m) and platinum (US$66m).

The January to August 2020 mineral export performance was 7.8% higher than the same period last year.

ZimTrade said during the initial period of lock-down the sector was exempted from shutdown hence the domestic impact of shutdown was minimised.

There was a 10% increase in processed food exports to US$79.9m from US$72m in 2019. The sector contributed 3.1% to total exports.

Top exported products included sugar at US$57m, pastry products US$3m and fruit juices US$3m.

Majuru said there was a need to continue pushing other products as sugar exports are contributing 71% of exports in this sector.

ZimTrade in conjunction with development partners is involved in Food Export Masterclass, a programme aiming to increase exports of processed foods.

The horticulture sector exports registered a decline of 11.7% to US$46.4m in the January to August 2020 period down from US$52.6m registered in 2019 during the same period.

The sectors’ contribution to total exports has also marginally gone down from 2.2% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2020 during the period under review.

Major export products were tea at US$12.1m, macadamia nuts (US$11.4m), citrus fruits (US$7.6m ), leguminous vegetables (US$4.7m) and pineapples (US$2.3m).

ZimTrade said there is a high demand for nutritious foods, considering the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, exports of citrus fruits increased by 8% and this is expected to increase as the year progresses as citrus fruits are a major source of vitamin C.

Tea and macadamia nuts exports were down by an average 22%. During the period under review, contribution of manufactured tobacco to total exports increased from US$27m in the 2019 period to US$35m in 2020 representing a 27% increase.

The sector’s contribution to total exports stood at 1.4% in 2020 up from 1.1% in 2019.

The sector seems to be picking up as there are a number of inquiries from Zambia and plans to export there are at an advanced stage.

Household and furniture exports decreased by 14% to US$10.9m million in 2020 from US$12.6m and the sector’s contribution to total exports stood at 0.42%.

During the January to August period, total imports fell 6.2% to US$2.96bn, representing from the US$3.16bn recorded in 2019.

Imports were mainly composed of diesel which constituted about 10%, maize (8%), unleaded petrol (5%), electrical energy reaching (1%), crude soya-bean oil (3%), rice (2%) pharmaceuticals at (1%) and wheat (1%).

Fuel and electricity consumed the largest chunk in terms of imports, during the period under review.

The fuel and electricity imports declined 45% to US$569m from US$1bn during the same period in 2019.

Raw materials imports increased by 14.5%, recording US$386m during the period under review against US$337m recorded in 2019.

Motor vehicle and vehicle parts imports decreased during the period under review to US$120m from US$195m in 2019, translating to a decrease of 38%.

The reduction can be attributed to the slowdown of the economic activity during the period under review.

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