Zimbabwe’s trade balance shrinks by 68%

By Alois Vinga


Zimbabwe’s import-export gap narrowed by 68% in April, partly due to rising manufacturing output, the recent Zimbabwe National Statistics (ZIMSTAT) trade report found.

The document released on Wednesday shows that the latest trade balance at minus US$49.9 million is well below the minus US$156.27 million recorded in March, signifying a decline of 68.04%.

The statistics are in line with recent data from ZIMSTAT, indicating that the country’s manufacturing sector capacity utilization rose to 66% for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Another independent survey carried out in 2022 by a civil society lobby group, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) also acknowledged the impact of economic reforms on the country’s manufacturing sector.

The report observed that 38% of manufacturing companies expanded operations, upgraded technology and made new investments in the second quarter, increasing their installed capacity.

During the period, the country’s main exports included semi-manufactured gold (30.1%), nickel mattes including platinum group minerals (PGM) (22.8%), ores and nickel concentrates (14.7%), tobacco (11.5%), industrial diamonds. (5.0%), among others.

“South Africa remained Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, with exports amounting to 40.6% compared to 42.9% in March 2022. Exports to the United Arab Emirates accounted for 34.1% in April 2022 compared to 313% in March 2022.

“During this period, the value of exports to China increased to 9.9% on April 2, 2022, from 5.9% in March of the same year,” the report said.

The developments coincide with the implementation of economic reform policies which have seen improved access to foreign currency by businesses although it remains below expected demand by manufacturers.

On the import side, machinery and raw materials topped the list, with mineral fuels and mineral petroleum products rising to 22.1% in April 2022 from 17.1% in March 2022.

Then come machinery and vehicle equipment 8.3%, electrical machinery 4.9%, plastics 4.5%.

The bulk of imports came from South Africa, Singapore, China, and Mozambique, among others.