Zim suffers 24% exports decline in first quarter of 2023

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE suffered a 24% decline in exports during the first quarter of 2023 on the back of dwindling dominance of traditional minerals and tobacco, the Treasury Quarterly Bulletin has revealed.

The document published by the Finance Ministry Monday, attributes the significant drop to a number of factors.

“The country exported goods worth US$1,4  billion during the first quarter of 2023, a decrease of 23,8% from US$1,8 billion recorded in the previous quarter.

“The reduction in exports is attributed to the falling in the global commodity prices for PGMs, declining gold and tobacco export volumes during the first quarter of 2023,” the bulletin said.

The document also established that the worsening of the trade balance was a result of declining exports driven by decline in international commodity prices of some minerals such as PGMs combined with declining export volumes for gold and tobacco, among others.

Major drivers of merchandise exports such as PGMs, gold and tobacco declined except for a few minor minerals.

Traditional commodities like semi-manufactured gold which used to prop up the exports declined by -23,6%, Platinum Group of Minerals -2,2%  and  tobacco -26,2%.

The country’s exports were mainly destined for South Africa, Singapore, China, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Zambia.

Similarly, merchandise imports decreased by 13, 1% to US$2 billion from US$2, 3 billion spent during the fourth quarter of 2022.

The reduction in imports on a quarterly basis is attributed to seasonality as the imports increased by 1.9% relative to the comparable period the previous year, 2022.

Imports were driven by fuel; electricity, maize and wheat whilst dairy produce crude soya-bean oil and palm oil.

“The international commodity prices were generally on a downward trend, however, the precious metals price index gained by 8,6% in the first quarter of 2023, relative to the 2022 fourth quarter, driven by gold and platinum, which recorded 9,21% and 2,33% increases, respectively.

“While platinum prices gained during the quarter owing to strong industrial demand for auto catalysts during the first quarter of 2023 as China reopened its industry from Covid-19 induced lockdowns, the price remained relatively low from a peak of US$1200 in 2020,” added the bulletin.