HARARE – According to data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), merchandise exports totalled US$587.3 million in April 2022, an increase of 5% from US$557.6 million in March 2022.

This brings the total value of exports for the first four (4) months of the year to US$2.1 billion, 40% ahead of US$1.5 billion realised in the same period last year.

Data from ZimStat shows that the growth in merchandise exports has been driven by the continued increase in earnings from Zimbabwe’s gold exports, classified as semi-manufactured gold.

Semi-manufactured gold constituted 30.1% of April’s total exports followed by nickel mattes including platinum group of minerals (22.8%), nickel ores and concentrates (14.7%), tobacco (11.5%), industrial diamonds (5.0%), ferrochromium (4.7%), platinum unwrought or in powder form (2.4%) and coke and semi coke (1.4%).

“During the month of April 2022, the country exported 2 963 kilogrammes of semi manufactured gold valued at US$176.9 million, compared to 2 200 kilogrammes valued at US$135.5 million in March 2022. In the same month of April 2022, the country exported 1,150.1 tonnes of nickel mattes valued at US$133.9 million, compared to 1,009.5 tonnes valued at US$110.2 million in March 2022,” said ZimStat.

“Besides the major minerals usually exported, Zimbabwe also exported 103 kilogrammes of industrial diamonds valued at US$29.2 million in April 2022, compared to 148 kilogrammes valued at US$45.2 million in March 2021,” it added.

The robust export growth in April was met with a decline in the import bill by 11% to US$637.2 million compared to US$713.8 million in March. As such, the country’s trade deficit narrowed in April to US$49.9 million, down 69% from a trade deficit of US$156.2 million in March.

However, on a year-on-year basis, the import bill increased by 18% in the first four months (4) months of the year to US$2.6 billion compared to US$2.2 billion in the same period last year.

The country’s major imports remained mineral fuels and mineral oil products which stood at 22.1% in April 2022, compared to 17.1% in March 2022. This was followed by machinery and equipment at 13.1% in April 2022. Other imports in April 2022 included vehicles (8.3%), electrical machinery (4.9%), plastics (4.5%), cereals mostly rice (3.6%), animal and vegetable oils and fats (2.8%), pharmaceuticals (2.7%), paper and paper products (1.9%), and fertilizers (1.6%).

“Notably, major imports in Zimbabwe were aggregated to reach 91.5% in April 2022,” ZimStat said.

“Cereal imports including maize increased from 1.7% in March 2022 to 3.6% in April 2022. Rice, which makes the bulk of cereal imports constituted 1.3% in March 2022 compared to 2.5% in April 2022.”

Zimbabwe’s Trade Partners

Exports to South Africa (Zimbabwe’s main trading partner), accounted for 40.6% of goods exports compared to 42.9% in March 2022. Exports to the United Arab Emirates constituted 34.1% in April 2022 compared to 31.3% in March 2022 while the value of exports to China increased to 9.9% in April 2022, from 5.9% in March the same year.

Exports to Mozambique constituted 4.3% in April 2022 being a decline from 7.1% in March 2022 whilst the proportion of exports to Belgium was 1.2% in April 2022, compared to 2.1% in March 2022.

On the other hand, the proportion of imports from South Africa was 43.8% in April 2022, compared to 42.0% in March 2022. Furthermore, the proportion of the value of imports from Singapore increased to 16.4% in April 2022, compared to 12.6% in March 2022.

Imports from China increased to 13.6% in April 2022 from 11.6% in March 2022. Other imports in 2022 came from Mozambique (2.8%), Mauritius (2.6%), India (2.4%), (United Emirates (1.4%), Zambia (2.6%), United Kingdom (1.2%) and United States (0.7%).

Forecast

We believe that the trade balance will expand in May 2022 and the months going forward on the back of the government’s decision to scrap duty on the importation of a selected basket of basic goods, which the authorities say is to cushion the citizens from skyrocketing prices locally. The economy remains under pressure, exacerbated by exchange rate volatilities where the local currency continues to lose value against the US dollar at an alarming pace. On the export front, the continuous jump in gold exports, one of the key minerals toward the US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, is quite encouraging and we expect the country to match the record US$9.7 billion realised in 2021. The obstacle, however, remains the pressure to import.

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