The value of the country's exports declined 13,05 percent in the two months to February due to weaknesses in global commodity prices, the appreciation of the dollar against regional currencies which makes products uncompetitive and a generally slower growth in world trade.
Zimbabwe's main export goods are minerals and tobacco and there are constant calls to expedite value addition and beneficiation in order to diverse the basket and in the process reduce shocks associated with volatile international commodities prices.
Latest preliminary data from Zimstat shows that exports declined to $458,9 million from $527,7 million in the comparative year ago period. Imports also declined 15,65 percent to $838,41 million which resulted in a trade deficit of $379,51 million against $466,23 million recorded in the same period last year.
Tobacco exports topped the list with $203,3 million worth up from $194,24 million.
The country sold gold worth $106,05 million, which was however an increase of 19 percent from last year's $89,13 million as prices of the mineral on the international market begins to improve while Government has also made efforts to decriminalise artisanal miners.
Gold prices are expected to firm further after The Federal Reserve on Wednesday signalled it won't raise interest rates as much this year as forecast in December amid weakening global economic growth, sending gold prices surging just after the metal capped the longest slump since November.
Lower rates are a boon for gold, which becomes more competitive against interest-bearing assets.
Industrial diamonds exports were at $19.65 million, nickel ore and concentrates were at $31.55 million, granite at $4.49 million while no figures are provided for platinum and nickel mattes.
The main driver of imports remained fuels with petrol at $57,97 million, paraffin at $2,96 million, diesel $106,02 million. Around $25,12 million worth of electricity was brought into the country with the figure gradually increasing from December at $5,16 million to $7,5 million and peaking in February at $17,61 million as power utility Zesa aims to reduce load shedding.
The country also imported maize worth $39,65 million as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the drought. Zimbabwe has the largest maize deficit in the region. Wheat brought in was $18,09 million and soya bean oil at $19 million. Skin care products were above $2,3 million. -- Wires.