ZIMBABWE’S exports dropped by 29% to US$282.9 million in January this year, weighed down by tobacco and minerals such as gold, ferro-chromium and nickel mattes, new data reveals.
Figures released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) show that in January, the country exported goods and services worth US$282.9 million, down 29% compared to the same period last year.
Gold and tobacco, the country’s top foreign currency earners, recorded a decline, with tobacco at US$34.6 million, down 54%, while gold at US$55.7 million, down 46%.
Other minerals which recorded a drop include ferro-chromium and nickel mattes. The likes of nickel ores and concentrates, diamond, platinum, and chromium ores and concentrates, however, recorded an increase.
In his 2021 national budget, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had projected that the current account would remain positive this year despite vulnerabilities in the global economy, driven by continued recovery of exports and imports, coupled with an increase in remittances and efficient foreign exchange market auction system, which prioritise allocating foreign currency to industry raw materials, rather than consumptive goods.
“Growth of exports will be driven mainly by increased production and productivity riding on stable domestic macro-economic environment. Imports are projected to grow in line with the re-opening of the economy and growth pressures thereof,” he said.
Last year, most commodity prices (nickel, platinum, copper, chrome, coal and cotton) except for gold and rhodium fell amid weaker global demand occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Logistical challenges due to lockdown measures domestically and in export markets also weighed down on exports.
Again, several mining firms, particularly small-scale miners, had temporarily shelved operations due to flooded shafts as some incur huge costs trying to drain water.
According to ZimStat figures, the country recorded a trade deficit of US$177 million after importing goods and services worth US$460 million against exports of US$282.9 million.
Notably, imports in the period under review included imported maize at US$26.2 million, diesel (US$19.6 million), crude soya bean oil (US$9.4 million, electricity (US$9.3 million) and petrol at US$6 million.
It is important to note that forex guzzlers like fuel and electricity, however, recorded a decline in January due to a Covid-19-induced national lockdown which slowed down economic activities.