Zimbabwe’s April trade deficit down 83% YOY due to Covid-19 lockdowns

By Almot Maqolo

Trade in the month of April 2020 was subdued on both Imports and Exports as countries are only allowing essential goods to pass through their borders. However imports managed to surpass exports in the period as a trade deficit of US$24.7m was realised.

ports came in US$224.7m with exports amassing a total of US$200m in the month under review. In the same period last year imports were US$418m and exports at US$276m giving us a trade deficit of US$142m. Our trade deficit has this fallen by 83% year on year terms due to pressures on incomes as inflation has grown by around 900% during the period.

Countries have been in lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic and industries have rarely produced anything as they are working on skeleton staff. In the month of April raw materials continued to dominate our exports albeit at low volumes which have been offset by rising commodity prices on the international market.

Tobacco poured in a mere US$6.2m which is the lowest the green gold has contributed since December 2016. Nickel which has been one of the country’s top earners after grossing in US$24m in March has contributed $0.00 in April, however nickel mattes were the highest earner for the month of April with US$78m.

Gold came in second with US$62m helped by record six year high prices reached in the month despite lower deliveries by miners to Fidelity. Diamonds earned the country US$12m, with Platinum contributing nothing to exports in April.

Ferro chrome grossed in US$10m as chromium ore worth US$4m was exported. Coke contributed US$3m as cane sugar without additives and sweeteners was down to US$2.9m from $6m in March.

Despite depressed export quantities, raw materials managed to contribute US$186m which is 93% of all exports. This continues to put the nation at risk of turbulence if raw materials are hit by a price shock. Economic growth pinned on commodities tends to succumb to vagaries of international market prices.

The country needs to focus on production through beneficiation of its raw resources as manufactured goods accounted for 3.41% of total exports with semi manufactured goods contributing 3.59% of exports. Other exported goods in the period were yoghurt, frozen Tilapia, milk and milk products, fertilized fowl eggs and live fowls.

Imports were dominated by food stuffs as they accounted for 26.43% of imports. With the country in need of grains due to poor harvests and to avoid a nationwide famine, maize continues to be one of the most goods to be brought into the country. US$33m worth of maize was imported in April with wheat and broken rice worth US$6m and US$4m being imported into the country.

Crude soya bean oil imported in the month under review was US$8m with vegetable oils contributing US$1.6m to imports. Pre-packed foods ready to be sold jumped 1 300% to US$1.4m from US$100 000 in March and US$0.00 in the preceding months.

Fuel and electricity which usually dominate our imports fell 7.4% month on month to 21.59% in April. With petrol worth US$11m and diesel worth US$26m being imported in April due to less demand as the country was in total lockdown for the month. Electricity imports came in at US$12m which was US$3m up month on month as the country made sure no load shedding was to be experienced during the lockdown.

South Africa continues to dominate our trade as we imported goods worth US$97m from them and sold goods worth US$7m to them. Singapore, China, Mauritius and Mozambique concluded the top five countries we imported from in the month under review.

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