Zimbabwe: Processed Exports Best Performer in 2020

Processed foods were best performing exports from Zimbabwe in 2020, after recording a weighty 17,96 increase despite the heavy strain from the Covid-19 pandemic related challenges that disrupted global trade.

Local exports saw serious disruptions in the movement across borders as some markets imposed bans on non-strategic and non-essential products.

National trade promotion body, ZimTrade, says the processed food exports from Zimbabwe increased to US$115 million from US$98 million in the same period in 2019, far outweighing overall export growth of 2,47 percent.

Top exported products included sugar (US$76 million), fruit juices (US$5,6 million) and pastry products (US$3,7 million), which posted stellar growth despite restrictions to trade, production and movement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

ZimTrade said for traders seeking to venture into export business, the processed foods sector could be a low-hanging fruit considering steady growth over the past few years.

According to recent statistics published by ZimStats, Zimbabwe’s overall exports grew by 2,7 percent between January-December 2020 compared to the previous year.

In terms of monitory value, the nation’s exports last year stood at US$4,39 billion, up from US$4,28 billion recorded same period in 2019.

Although this falls short of the 10 percent export growth set under the National Export Strategy, it reflects commendable efforts that went to ensure the country retains a positive export growth.

In terms of product composition, primary commodities dominated exports in the period under review.

Mineral exports stood at US$3,210 billion during 2020, contributing 73 percent to total exports.

Top mineral exports where nickel mattes (US$985 million), gold (US$982 million), nickel ores and concentrates (US$612 million), diamonds (US$141 million), ferro alloys (US$140 million) and platinum (US$134 million).

Given the contribution of the mineral sector to the economy, ZimTrade said, there is need to enhance investments towards beneficiation and value-addition.

This is in line with the aspects raised under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), which was launched last year by President Mnangagwa.

Strong growth was also registered in manufactured tobacco, whose total exports grew by 1,06 percent in 2019 to 1,22 percent in 2020 with the absolute values of US$45 million and US$54 million for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

This growth can be mainly attributed to the increase in the export production and export of cigars and cigarettes, which grew by 71 percent from US$15 million in 2019 to US$26 million in 2020.

Although there was export growth, there are some sectors which recorded a decline, primarily as a result to disruptions in export markets following the global outbreak of Covid-19.

The horticulture sector, which is amongst the top four foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe, registered a 13,5 percent decline from US$68,8 million in 2019 to US$59,5 million in 2020. Over the years, tobacco was mainly exported to China, Belgium, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. There has, however, has been a notable increase in Zimbabwe’s exports into the region including Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa.

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