Zimbabwe’s exports have continued to defy global Covid-19 trade restrictive measures with the country registering a 20,3 percent increase in export earnings in November 2020, from US$439 million in October, national statistical agency, Zimstats said.
The jump in foreign receipts was largely attributed to tobacco exports, which peaked towards year end.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s second largest foreign currency earner after gold.
The strong exports meant the country’s trade balance remained positive despite growth in imports.
“During the same period (November 2020), imports increased slightly by four percent to US$509,7 million from US$490,2 million in October 2020.
“While a positive trade balance was maintained for the four months in a row, at the end of 2019, the trade balance has been positive as well in November 2020 due to large quantities of tobacco exports,” said ZimStat.
The Government is looking at reducing imports through various import substitution programmes.
For instance, the Government has come up with a five-year road map aimed at significantly reducing fertiliser imports over the next five years through boosting local production.
The country, whose economy is largely agro-based has been importing significant quantities of fertiliser for many years as local companies struggled to meet demand largely due to foreign currency shortages.
While Zimbabwe spent nearly US$662 million on fertiliser imports in the past seven years, with the Government, which supports farmers though state assisted farming programmes, being the largest procurer, local companies have not benefited much.
Had the local industry been adequately supported, the country would have spent US$400 million, which is less US$262 million, according to the Five Year Fertiliser Import Substitution Roadmap document.
The local industry has responded to the Government’s Local Content Strategy as witnessed by increased local sourcing of raw materials.
The commercial sector also had a positive response to the Buy Local Strategy, which resulted in more than 80 percent of goods on the shelves of most retailers being locally manufactured.
Maize seed exports rose to US$3,8 million from just under US$1 million in the previous month.
Cigarettes peaked in November, earning US$3,3 million. Crocodile skins also peaked in November, raking in US$6,4 million.
Ginned cotton, or lint recorded its second highest performance with foreign receipts amounting to US$6 million.
Nickel matte earned US$44 million while gold exports stood at US$76,5 million.
The strong showing comes on the back of Government, through Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) having laid an elaborate strategy to grow exports as a key enabler to economic revival.
The strategy has been succeeded by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Through NDS1, Government is not only targeting to grow the export basket which is currently dominated by minerals but is also seeking to widen the export basket through the manufacturing sector.
In the case of minerals, the Government in conjunction with the private sector, has also laid plans for extensive value addition to maximise earnings from its mineral wealth.
The Government says it will continue implementing the import substitution strategy as it is critical for increased local production, employment creation and stabilisation of prices on the domestic market.