ZIMBABWE’S annual exports for 2020 defied Covid-19 pandemic and grew to a record US$4.4 billion on the backdrop of a raft of economic reform measures, the country’s trade facilitation body, Zimtrade has reported.
Predictions by the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year had projected “world trade is expected to fall by between 13 to 32% in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world”.
However, based on the Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency (Zimstat) data, the trade facilitator said exports grew by 2.7% in 2020.
The growth coincides with increased foreign currency availability on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign exchange auction system coupled with stable exchange rates, which have spurred businesses.
“In terms of monetary value, the nation’s exports stood at US$4.39 billion, up from US$4.28 billion recorded in the same period in 2019,” Zimtrade said.
“Although this falls short of the 10% export growth set under the National Export Strategy, it reflects on the commendable efforts that went to ensure the country retains a positive export growth.”
Product composition shows that primary commodities dominated the export list with minerals standing at US$3.21 billion equivalent to 73% ratio of total exports, and indicating the urgent need to enhance beneficiation and value addition in the minerals sector if the nation is to achieve full value from their exports.
Processed food exports increased by 17.9% to US$115 million from US$98 million in 2019.
Top exported products included sugar (US$76 million), fruit juices (US$5.6 million) and pastry products (US$3.7 million).
Growth was also registered by processed tobacco, whose total exports increased from 1.06% in 2019 to 1.22% in 2020 with values jumping from US$45 million to US$54 million for 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“This growth can mainly be attributed to the increase in the production and export of cigars and cigarettes which grew by 71% from US$15 million in 2019 to US$26 million in 2020,” it said.
Growth is also attributed to intra- Africa exports in countries such as Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa above the usual export destinations.
“With the commencement of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area this year, local companies will need to take advantage of improved access to regional markets,” added Zimtrade.