THE United Arab Emirates (UAE) took pole position as Zimbabwe’s export destination for the month of July this year overtaking the country’s major trading partner South Africa due to increased gold trades, a report by the country’s statistical agency has shown.
Before this development, the UAE consolidated its position as Zimbabwe’s second-largest export destination as gold shipments to the region maintained an upward trend.
After being ejected from the London Bullion Market Association after output plunged to three tonnes in 2008, Zimbabwe began selling the precious metal via South Africa’s Rand Refinery.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s single largest foreign exchange earner.
Latest statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency show that the UAE, which is at the centre of an investigation by Al Jazeera exposed a complex web of illicit gold trades and money laundering between Harare and the oil rich gulf state overtook neighbouring South Africa as Zimbabwe’s top export destination during the period under review.
The investigation, which has riled the authorities and some Zanu PF activists, reveals how syndicates have turned Western sanctions meant to target Zimbabwe’s government into an opportunity to smuggle large quantities of gold and launder hundreds of millions of dollars through a complex web of companies and bribes.
The ZimStat report shows that in July 2023, the main export destinations were United Arab Emirates (27.6%) and South Africa (23.6%). At 26,7% of the total exports for the period under review, semi-manufactured gold was the major export followed by nickel mattes 11,1%.
Tobacco was fourth at 8%. The total value of exports in July 2023 was US$603.2 million representing a 5.96% decrease from US$641.5 million reported in June 2023.
Total Imports for July 2023 were US$782.9 million indicating an increase of 7.62% from US$727.4 million reported in June 2023. The trade deficit for July 2023 was US$179.6 million. This represents a decrease of 109.0% from a deficit of US$85.9 million recorded in July 2023.
The main products exported were semi-manufactured gold (26.7%) and industrial diamonds (19.2%).
The main products imported were mineral fuels and mineral oil products (18.8%), machinery & mechanical appliances (12.6%).
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe needs hard currency because the country’s own currency has lost its value in international trade due to hyperinflation.