BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S exports marginally increased by 2% to US$1,24 billion during the first four months of the year, largely driven by commodities such as gold and tobacco, official statistics reveal.
Figures released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) show that between January and April, the country exported goods and services worth US$1,24 billion against imports of US$1,51 billion.
In the prior year, exports stood at US$1,22 billion against imports of US$1,52 billion, giving a trade deficit of US$308 million.
This year, the trade deficit — an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets — stood at US$278 million, 10% down on the prior period.
In the period under review, the southern African nation exported gold worth US$289 million, nickel mattes amounting to US$267 million, tobacco (US$220 million), nickel ores and concentrates (US$102 million), ferrochromium (US$59 million), diamonds (US$43 million), platinum (US$18 million), and chromium ores and concentrates (US$13 million), among others.
It could be noted that all commodities in the period under review, except tobacco, diamonds, platinum and nickel mattes, recorded a drop compared to the same period last year.
Economic analyst Persistence Gwanyanya recently told our sister paper NewsDay that the country needed to diversify its exports to offset the future shocks.
“We are a country, which is heavily dependent on commodities and now with Covid-19 affecting many economies, we are going to be heavily affected going forward.
We need to diversify our exports revenue while at the same time reducing the outflow of forex in respect of imports,” he said.
In his 2020 national budget statement, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had indicated that recovering exports, stable secondary income flows and positive expenditure switching effects of the liberalised foreign exchange regime were envisaged to further narrow the current account deficit to US$85,7 million from US$110,2 million recorded last year.
Imports were dominated by commodities that could be produced locally, which include bottled water, vegetables, fruits, wheat, maize and maheu, among others.
The country also imported fuel, electricity and maize worth more than US$534 million.