Zimbabwe’s exports are estimated to have grown by 11,5 percent to US$4,809 billion in 2018 from US$4,313 billion in 2017, as minerals, agriculture and manufactured exports all increased.
Gold, flue-cured tobacco, nickel, ferrochrome, chrome, industrial diamonds, jewellery, cotton, platinum and cane sugar dominated the export basket, contributing over 80 percent of total exports.
This dovetails into the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, whose objectives include measures to strengthen the economy’s balance of payments, particularly regarding enhancing exports, currency competitiveness, improving capital inflows, and managing the imports bill.
Presenting the 2019 Monetary Policy Statement on Wednesday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya noted that while exports registered significant growth, the current account deficit widened.
The country’s external sector position, estimated at US$1,09 billion for 2018, has largely remained under considerable pressure due to excessive foreign currency demand against lesser foreign currency inflows.
The growth in annual exports comes after Zimbabwe’s merchandise exports had also increased by 9,8 percent to US$3,407 billion in the 9 months to September 2019 compared to the same period the previous year.
Mineral exports accounted for 60,5 percent of the total merchandise exports while agriculture and manufactured exports accounted for 22,6 percent and 16,9 percent of the total exports, respectively.
Services exports improved during the first three quarters of 2018 while imports sharply dropped.
Driven by travel and transport services exports are estimated to have increased by 15,5 percent from US$337,9 million in 2017 to US$390,1 million in 2018, the RBZ Governor said.
Transport exports increased in line with increasing merchandise trade while activity in the tourism and travel sector grew since end of 2017 with most hotels reporting huge improvement in room occupancy levels.
In 2018, merchandise imports are estimated to have registered a moderate growth of 28,45 percent, from US$5,462 billion in 2017 to US$7,018 billion in 2018, the central bank chief said.
“The growth in imports was largely driven by non-food imports. Fuel imports increased on account of rising crude oil prices and increased consumer and industrial demand,” Dr Mangudya said.
Merchandise imports increased from US$4,031 billion in the first three quarters of 2017 to about US$5,258 billion during the same period in 2018 largely reflecting a growing economy.
The country’s major imports were fuel (diesel and petrol), electricity, machinery, raw materials and vehicles.
According to the TSP, which covers 2019-2020, the need for a sustainable balance of payments position, underpinned by growing exports of higher value-added domestic goods is also emphasised.
In this regard, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme targets taking advantage of distinct opportunities in growing regional markets for increased trade, benefitting from deepening of regional integration initiatives being implemented under AU, Comesa and Sadc.-ebusinessweeklyco.zw