Despite the fact that its national economy has been helplessly slumped against the ropes for years, Zimbabwe remains one of Botswana’s major trading partners.
Except for South Africa, Botswana does more trade with her troubled neighbour to the north than she does with any other African country. Additionally, the Botswana-Zimbabwe trade volumes are higher than those for most European countries like France.
The latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in March this year when Zimbabwe held its presidential elections, it received 5.1 percent of Botswana’s total exports. That was 1.3 percent more than Botswana exported to China. Exports to Zimbabwe were valued at P155.7 million while those received by China were valued at P116.1 million. On the other hand, the combined total of goods exported to France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal came to P71.3 million.
The following month, exports to Zimbabwe were valued at P102.4 million, which represented 4.2 percent of total exports. That was more business than Botswana did with Israel, whose exports were valued at P59.2 million.
Exports to Zimbabwe comprise salt and soda ash, copper/nickel ores and concentrates, bituminous coal, recovered (waste or scrap) paper and paper board as well as copper/nickel mattes. On the April, 2008 list of Top 50 Exported Commodities, nickel matte is ranked second, copper and concentrates fourth and nickel ores and concentrates seventh.
In his 2008/09 budget speech this year, finance minister Baledzi Gaolathe said that exports of goods last year were valued at P33.3 billion which represents an increase of 26 percent from the 2006 level.
“The increase was mainly driven by a rise of 19 percent in diamond exports, while those of copper and nickel increased by 50 percent,” the minister said.
In March, 2008 the value of goods that Botswana imported from Zimbabwe was P25.2 million and was more than the combined total value (P23. 9 million) of goods from the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Hungary, Finland, Greece, Austria, Spain and Ireland. In the same month, Botswana imported P6.8 million worth of goods from France.
The figures are a summary of Botswana’s external trade (in goods only) as at the end of April this year and the primary source of the information is the Customs and Excise division in the Botswana Unified Revenue Service. On a monthly basis, Customs collects and compiles raw data for both computerised and manual borders. This information is subsequently passed on CSO for processing.
Only goods that have been imported into Botswana and have been cleared by Customs to be consumed in Botswana are recorded for external trade statistics as imports. Likewise, only goods that have been cleared by Customs as being exported for consumption by the outside world are recorded as exports.