5 quick takes from Zimbabwe’s latest trade data

The national statistics agency, ZimStat, has just released the latest trade data for December. Here are five quick facts about the state of trade:

Trade deficit got wider

The gap between exports and imports widened in December. Zimbabwe exported goods worth US$590 million, 8.7% less than in November. Imports, on the other hand, went up by 12.7% to US$771.1 million. As a result, the trade deficit sharply increased to US$180.3 million in December from just US$37.1 million in November.

Value not yet added

Minerals still make up the bulk of Zimbabwe’s exports. In December, Zimbabwe’s main exports were gold, which accounted for 42.0% of exports, followed by nickel mattes – including platinum – at 18.3%, nickel ores and concentrates (13.4%), tobacco (9.8%), ferro-chromium (3.3%), platinum unwrought or in powder form (3.0%), skins and hides (1.7%).

SA still biggest trade partner, but Dubai rising on Zim gold

South Africa is still Zimbabwe’s biggest trading data. But, in December, exports to UAE beat those to South Africa. Dubai accounted for 42.2% of exports, up from 22.4% in November. Exports to South Africa were 38.1% in December from 33.4% in November.

This most likely reflects the emergence of Dubai as a major destination for Zimbabwean gold. In December, in total, Zimbabwe exported 4,417kg of gold valued at US$248.1 million, compared to 2,455kg valued at US$139.1 million in November. Dubai has become the biggest buyer of gold from Africa.

In September, the Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) and the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) signed an MoU that may lead to the establishment of a gold market in Zimbabwe.

Fueling imports

Zimbabwe’s biggest import remains fuel and oils, which made up 21.5% of all imports, up from 18.9% in November. This was followed by machinery and equipment at 10.9%. Cars are still a major import, despite recent restrictions, accounting for 7.6% of all imports. Other major imports are pharmaceuticals (6.7%), fertilizer (6.1%), plastics (4.3%) plus animal and vegetable fats and oils (3.9%).

Put the country in rice?

In total, cereals accounted for 3.1% of imports, up from 2.6%. Rice made up the bulk of cereal imports, at 2.7% from 1.7% in November. Government banned maize imports last year, and the trade data includes only maize contracts entered into before the ban. This month, government announced private buyers could now import maize again.

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