Discusses key economics indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 7/24/2019
  • Zimbabwe has a gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$20 billion mainly dominated by agriculture, mining and services.  The contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP has declined from around 25 percent in the 1990s to about 12 percent mainly due to several constraints including foreign exchange shortages and poor economic environment.
  • Zimbabwe’s main exports include gold, platinum, chrome, tobacco, and cotton.  Growth in exports has lagged behind growth in imports. Since 2009, Zimbabwe ran large trade deficits which, along with declining remittances, resulted in a widening current account deficit.  However, in 2017 and 2018, the government introduces measures that restricted imports resulting in a decline in the current account deficit.
  • Although Zimbabwe improved its rank in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” survey for 2018 to 155 out of 190, it still ranks poorly in global comparisons of economic competitiveness.
  • The government of Zimbabwe estimates the economy grew by four percent in 2018 and projects real economic growth to decline to 3.1 percent in 2019 primarily due to the impact of unfavorable weather on agriculture.  The IMF believes the country grew by 3.4 percent in 2018 but will decline by 5.2 percent in 2019.
  • Although the 2009 adoption of the multicurrency monetary regime, under which the U.S. dollar dominated business transactions, brought stability and restored business confidence, the introduction of the surrogate currency known as “bond notes” in 2016 reintroduced uncertainties within the economy.  The country suffers from a binding foreign exchange constraint that forced the central bank to introduce an interbank market for foreign exchange in February 2019.  Nevertheless, the official rate has failed to attract inflows as it remains below the black-market rate.  Public finances have improved since October 2018 thanks to rising revenues from a two percent intermediated mobile transfer tax and reduction in expenditure.  As a result, the government has registered an average monthly primary surplus of $100 million since September 2018. 
  • Zimbabwe’s rate of inflation rose sharply from 0.53 percent in December 2017 to 42.1 by December 2018 thanks to high government borrowing for much of 2018, resulting in high growth in money supply, as well as the pass-through effect of the black-market currency depreciation. 
  • Zimbabwe’s desire to re-engage the international community by paying off arrears to the preferred creditors failed.  After the country paid off arrears owed to the IMF, it failed to raise resources to pay arrears owed to the African Development Bank and the World Bank as agreed to in Lima on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF spring meetings in 2015.
  • The IMF has agreed to put the country onto a staff monitored program.

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Zimbabwe Trade Development and Promotion