The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE’s exports continue growing as the economic diplomacy spearheaded by President Mnangagwa’s Government bears fruit.
According to statistics recently released by ZimStat, the country’s exports increased by 18,4 percent between January and July compared to the same period last year.
In terms of value, exports of goods and services stood at US$3,7 billion, compared to US$3,2 billion in the same period in 2021.
Exports of manufactured or valued-added products have grown by 19,6 percent against a target of 10 percent outlined in the National Export Strategy and National Trade Policy.
Overall, exports of value-added products amounted to US$206,1 million, compared to U$172,4 million last year.
This growth is on the back of spirited efforts by the Second Republic to translate Zimbabwe’s relations with countries in the region and beyond into economic gains that will help the country achieve an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has been strengthening bilateral relations with other countries to ensure Zimbabwe can be fully integrated into global supply chains.
Backed by increased trade development and promotion activities undertaken by ZimTrade, there has been enhanced visibility of local products and services in traditional markets, as well as new markets.
These promotional activities have also seen increased demand for Zimbabwean products across the world.
On the other hand, imports increased by 17 percent to US$4,8 billion from US$4,1 billion in 2021.
The increase in imports is driven by growth in production, which has seen the manufacturing sector sourcing more raw materials.
Consequently, the trade deficit for the period under review widened to US$1,1 billion from US$962 million recorded in 2021.
Efforts to diversify export markets are bearing fruit.
In the seven-month period, exports to South Africa dropped from US$1,8 billion to US$1,5 billion, while exports to the United Arab Emirates increased from US$802million to US$1,2 billion.
Exports to Netherlands have also grown during the period under review, from US$3,3 million in 2021 to US$28,3 million this year.
Exports to Italy similarly jumped to US$36,8 million against US$551 000 last year.
The processed foods sector is demonstrating potential and can even grow further.
During the period under review, processed food exports jumped 35 percent from US$35,2 million by July 2021 to US$47,5 million this year.
Major export products in the sector were sugar (US$18 million), pastry products (US$4 million), malt (US$2,1 million) and fruit juices (US$2 million).
Demand for locally processed foods is also growing in the region.
Local companies can, therefore, capitalise on the current momentum to introduce more products.
During engagements with buyers at the Maputo International Trade Fair held recently in Mozambique, participating companies were told that the market prefers the quality of Zimbabwean products.
Local businesses were also advised that competitive pricing would make it easy for them to compete with products that are coming from as far as Europe and Asia.
International markets such as the United Kingdom and Dubai are also export targets.
Further, exports of hides and skins increased by 39 percent from US$7,7 million in January to July 2021 to US$10,7 million during the same period in 2022.
Major export products in the sector were raw hides and skins (fresh or preserved, not tanned).
At the same time, leather exports recorded a marginal growth from US$1,1 million to US$1,4 million, translating to a 29 percent increase.
Considering the sector recorded a decline last year, the growth recorded so far this year indicates recovery.
There are ongoing efforts to penetrate new markets that will help grow exports from the sector.
For example, a market survey conducted by ZimTrade in Ghana this year revealed opportunities for processed leather in the market, which can be used as a springboard into the rest of West Africa.
Manufactured tobacco exports also recorded a jump from US$31,8 million to US$35,4 million in the period under review, representing 11 percent growth.
ZimTrade continues to assist the sector to break into the Middle East, where there is potential to do well.
Regional markets such as Mozambique, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are similarly potential markets for the sector.
In addition, exports from the building and construction sector stood at US$23,4 million, marginally up from the US$23,2 million recorded in 2021.
The sustained growth from the sector has been anchored in ceramic tile exports, which increased from US$3,2 million in 2021 to US$9 million in 2022, after new markets were opened in Zambia and South Africa.
Although exports from value-added products are growing, it is important to note that primary commodities still dominate, which is not sustainable as this translates to exporting value, jobs and development.
During the period under review, exports from the mining sector stood at US$3,07 billion, with major exports being gold, nickel ores, platinum and diamonds.
Unmanufactured tobacco exports stood at US$389 million.
Clothing and textile sector exports marginally decreased from US$12,9 million to US$12,2 million.
Major exports in the sector were men’s or boys’ suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers and trousers.
There has, however, been a notable increase in the export of footwear.
Household and office furniture exports also recorded a decline from US$11,96 million last year to US$10,9 million this year.
Allan Majuru is ZimTrade’s CEO