Economic diplomacy bearing fruit: ZimTrade Tobacco is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest exports

Bulawayo Bureau

THE economic diplomacy agenda being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa’s administration is bearing fruit as the country continues to record positive growth in exports, which shows the world is warming up to Zimbabwean products, ZimTrade has said.

Guided by the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”, the Government is working closely with the private sector to revamp key productive sectors, as part of the broader economic transformation agenda, which is anchored on the rolling out of reforms aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business and stimulating both domestic and foreign direct investment.

Creating an export-led growth and substituting imports are at the heart of this drive, which should culminate in the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

Citing statistics recently released by Zimstat, Zimbabwe’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade said exports grew by 47,46 percent to US$3,75 billion between January-August this year, from US$2,54 billion recorded during the same period last year.

“This huge jump follows spirited re-engagement efforts undertaken by the Second Republic to integrate Zimbabwe into Africa and world trade systems following years of isolation, as well as increased export promotion activities undertaken this year by ZimTrade,” said the agency in its latest monthly newsletter.

“Although exports are still dominated by primary commodities, the exports of value-added products and services have made a major stride, growing by 27,99 percent, from US$220,8 million in 2020 to US$282,6 million in 2021.”

ZimTrade has said that this export growth momentum has been supported by improved external trade from sectors such as clothing and textile, building and construction material, household and electric goods, as well as the arts and crafts sectors.

On the other hand, imports increased by 43 percent to US$4,74 billion from US$3,31 billion in 2020. Consequently, the trade deficit for the period under review stood at US$994,33 million, which is an increase when compared to a deficit of US$774,22 million recorded during the same period in 2020.

“The increase in imports may be as a result of an improved manufacturing sector, which has seen local industries importing and diversifying raw materials to meet requirements,” said ZimTrade.

“Statistics show that during the period under review, the country’s imports were largely composed of raw materials, machinery and equipment.

“Imports of raw materials totalled US$1,06 billion, an increase of 70,2 percent from US$621 million recorded last year.

“Imports of machinery and equipment also went up by 61,2 percent from US$630 million recorded last year to US$1,02 billion during the period under review this year.” According to ZimTrade, the textile and footwear industry is making remarkable recoveries on the export front, with more products penetrating regional markets.

Statistics show that between January-August this year, exports from this sector grew by 85 percent to US$32,3 million in 2021 from US$17,7 million in 2020.

“The growth follows an increased demand for Zimbabwean products such as protective clothing in regional markets such as Zambia, and Democratic Republic of Congo,” said the agency.

“As more buyers are looking forward to source protective clothing from Zimbabwe based on superior quality of local products and new markets are unlocked, projections are that exports from the sector will continue to grow.

“The household goods and furniture sectors also registered a positive jump in exports, which grew by 54 percent from US$10,8 million recorded in 2020 to US$16,8 million. The biggest jump in the sector were brushes and mechanical sweepers, which rose to US$3,7 million during the period under review this year, from just US$1 000.” With more players producing such products, especially small and medium enterprises, ZimTrade says the country should be able to realise more export growth from the household goods and furniture sector.

Other major exports from the sector during the period under review were plastic articles (US$3,6 million), and kitchen tables (US$3,4 million).


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