By Alois Vinga
THE gap between Zimbabwe’s imports and exports narrowed down by 68% in April, partly attributed to surging manufacturing output, Zimbabwe National Statistics’ (ZIMSTAT) recent trade report has established.
The document released Wednesday, shows that the latest trade balance at minus US$49,9 million is far below the minus US$156,27 million recorded in March, signifying a 68,04% decline.
The statistics are in sync with recent data by ZIMSTAT, indicating that the country’s manufacturing sector capacity utilisation increased to 66% for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Another independent 2022 survey by a top civil society pressure group, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) also acknowledged the impact of the economic reforms on the country’s manufacturing sector.
The report observed that 38% of manufacturing firms expanded operations, upgraded their technology, and had new investments in the second quarter, thereby expanding their installed capacities.
During the period, the country’s main exports included semi manufactured gold (30.1%), nickel mattes, including platinum group of minerals (PGMs) (22.8%), nickel ores and concentrates (14.7%), tobacco (11.5%), industrial diamonds (5.0%), among others.
“South Africa remained Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, with exports standing at 40,6% compared to 42,9% in March 2022. Exports to the United Arab Emirates constituted 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 2 April 2022, from 5,9% in March the same year,” the report said.
The developments coincide with the implementation of economic reform policies which have seen an improvement in access to foreign currency by companies though it remains below the expected demand by manufacturers.
On the imports side, machinery and raw materials dominated the list, with mineral fuels and mineral oil products standing at 22,1% in April 2022, compared to 17,1% in March 2022.
This was followed by machinery and equipment vehicles 8,3%, electrical machinery 4,9%, plastics 4,5%.
The bulk of imports were sourced from South Africa, Singapore, China and Mozambique, among others.