Zim exports surge 10pc to US$7,2bn

ZIMBABWE’S total value of exported goods grew by nearly 10 percent to US$7,2 billion in 2023 from US$6,59 billion realised over the same period in 2022.

Although Zimbabwe’s exports continue to be dominated by mineral and commodity exports, the export basket witnessed notable growth in other shipments, particularly from the manufacturing sector.

Over 80 percent of the total export earnings are minerals.

The manufacturing sector exports grew by 22 percent last year compared to 2022.

Packaging also performed exceptionally as the sector’s exports shot by 20 percent.

Processed foods were mainly destined for Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. The same applies to household and electrical products, which were exported to the same regional countries.

Zimbabwe, however, experienced a significant decline in agricultural implements and chemical exports.

Speaking during a First Capital Bank webinar convened on Wednesday under the theme “Navigating the Export Maze: Opportunities and Challenges In The Manufacturing Business”, ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru highlighted the need to broaden the export basket moving away from over-reliance on mineral earnings.

“There has been a growth in our export earnings this year, but if you look at the structure, we mainly export minerals and commodities which constitute between 80 and 90 percent of total exports. That way, we are exporting jobs and value,” said Mr Majuru.

South Africa, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, and Mozambique, respectively, were the country’s major export destinations.

Among the four, The UAE has risen to become a significant trading partner for Zimbabwe over a short period.

The UAE is a lucrative market and an important regional export hub that has become the world’s third-largest export centre after Hong Kong and Singapore.

“To UAE we are exporting minerals and horticultural products predominantly. Before 2017-2018 UAE did not even feature in the top 10 export destinations for Zimbabwe products, but it has grown to be in the top three.”

He said efforts had been devised to grow the market footprint in new markets, mentioning the recent effort to set bases in countries like Yemen, Greece, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

“Although the volumes might be small the good thing is, we have made strides to get into those markets, the onus is now on growing a foothold in these countries.”

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) chief executive officer Sekai Kuvarika said Zimbabwe fared better compared to some regional counterparts, adding that the country required more effort and resources to optimize export performance.

She said many companies have been working on improving manufacturing technology.

“We have extensive manufacturing sector capabilities as a country, we have a very strong industrial base. Maybe we are second to one of the countries in the SADC,” said Kuvarika.

Glytime Foods chief executive officer Mr Lesly Marange said manufacturers should step up their game and produce quality goods if they are to gain recognition in the export markets.

“The FMCG sector is a competitive space where you need to be above the norm so we need to be very innovative when we come up with our products and understand the dynamics. I think our company has managed to come up with very competitive products in terms of taste profile and the way we have branded,” said Mr Marange.

He said Glytime had gained momentum in export markets since they had customised their products to suit the needs of communities suffering from non-communicable diseases.

“We are addressing a problem we have been well received from across the borders.”

According to the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat), the total value of exported goods in December 2023 was US$550,6 million, representing a 19,2 percent decrease from US$681 million reported in November 2023.

Imports for December 2023 amounted to US$819 million, a decrease of 1, 1 percent from US$828 million recorded in November 2023

Zimbabwe’s imports continue to be dominated by fuel, machinery, equipment, and vehicles. The December 2023 trade deficit for goods was US$268,7 million, translating to an 83 percent increase from a deficit of US$147 million recorded in November 2023.

First Capital Bank (FCB) chief executive officer Tapera Mushoriwa said his bank had been making deliberate efforts to support exporters in the manufacturing sector and more specifically the exporters.

“Our bank has been instrumental in supporting various clients and sectors in terms of international trade and bolstering their balance sheet. We have been offering support through our international banking desk which offers trade finance, we offer working capital to fund companies’ short-term obligations, and our support also includes bridging finance, letters of credit, and bank guarantees

“We have engaged with offshore financiers or funders to make sure that we continue to support exporters ensuring that we bring in various lines of credit,” said Mr Mushoriwa.


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