Zimbabwe flag Zimbabwe: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Zimbabwe

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Zimbabwean Government is generally open to foreign trade, which accounts for 65% of its GDP, according to the latest World Bank estimates. In the context of economic and regional integration, the country has strengthened its ties with the SADC (Southern African Development Community) member countries and levies lower duties on imports from such countries. However, the strict control on trade exercised by the Government and the relatively high customs duties make the country difficult to access. There are other barriers that continue to impact trade such as the lack of long-term economic and political reforms, state control over companies, insecurity, and a lack of skilled labor forces. The country mainly exports gold (30.3%), nickel ores and concentrates (16.7%), nickel mattes (15.6%), tobacco (14.1%), and ferro-alloys (5.5%); whereas imports are led by petroleum oils (3.4%), motor vehicles for the transport of goods (3.0%), mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilizers (2.8%), and electrical energy (2.4% - data Comtrade 2022).

Zimbabwe's main export partners are South Africa (41.8% of total exports), United Arab Emirates (32.3%), China (8.9%), Belgium (3.3%), and Mozambique (2.9%), with imports coming chiefly from South Africa (40.5%), China (13.9%), Singapore (13.6%), Mozambique (3.8%), and Mauritius (3.7% - data Comtrade 2022). The country was once a major agricultural exporter, but today it imports foodstuffs and manufactured goods in large quantities. This is mainly due to land expropriation and state-owned enterprises distorting the economy, as well as government intervention, inadequate supervision, and political instability that undermine the financial system. This economic change has significantly damaged the country's trade balance, which is now in deficit.

According to data by WTO, in 2022, exports of goods amounted to USD 6.5 billion (+9.1% year-on-year), while imports reached USD 8.6 billion (+14.5%). Over that same period, services exports amounted to USD 447 million, while imports reached USD 1.3 billion. The country’s trade balance for goods and services was negative by 9% of GDP (from 5.3% one year earlier – data World Bank). In 2023, Zimbabwe's total value of exported goods increased by almost 10% to USD 7.2 billion. More than 80% of export earnings originated from the mineral sector (ZimStat).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,8175,6437,5778,6539,214
Exports of Goods (million USD) 4,2694,3956,0366,5867,225
Imports of Services (million USD) 9097709451,3331,417
Exports of Services (million USD) 603331275464507

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 50.054.652.754.756.3
Trade Balance (million USD) -927-1,938174212n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,581-2,464-131-226n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.2-12.4-2.1-29.054.8
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.8-2.912.3-39.841.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 30.428.425.528.730.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 19.726.227.225.925.4

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 0.00.00.00.00.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 0.00.00.00.00.0

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Member of Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Member of African Union (AU).

Member of the Intergovernmental Council of Countries Exporters of Copper (CIPEC)

The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP). It also benefits from the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU within the framework of the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement.

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
South Africa 41.8%
United Arab Emirates 32.3%
China 8.8%
Belgium 3.3%
Mozambique 2.9%
See More Countries 10.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
South Africa 40.4%
China 13.9%
Singapore 13.6%
Mozambique 3.9%
Mauritius 3.7%
See More Countries 24.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

6.6 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 30.3%
Nickel ores and concentratesNickel ores and concentrates 16.7%
Nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other...Nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other intermediate products of nickel metallurgy : 15.6%
Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuseUnmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse 14.1%
Ferro-alloysFerro-alloys 5.5%
See More Products 17.9%
8.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 15.5%
Soya-bean oil and its fractions, whether or not...Soya-bean oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 3.4%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 3.0%
Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl....Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg) 2.8%
Electrical energyElectrical energy 2.4%
See More Products 73.0%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: May 2024