Zimbabwe’s top 10 imports accounted for almost three-quarters (73.9%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Zimbabwean imports represent a tiny 0.03% sliver of total global imports which totaled $16.473 trillion for 2015.
From a continental perspective, $2.7 billion or 52.7% of Zimbabwe’s total imports by value in 2016 were purchased from African countries. Asian trade partners supplied 37.7% of import sales to Zimbabwe while 6.2% worth of goods originated from European nations. A smaller percentage (2.5%) came from North American exporters.
Given Zimbabwe’s population of 14.5 million people, its total $5.2 billion in 2016 imports translates to roughly $360 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.
Zimbabwe’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Zimbabwe’s import purchases during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Zimbabwe.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.5 billion (28.8% of total imports)
- Cereals: $518.6 million (10%)
- Machinery including computers: $468.1 million (9%)
- Vehicles : $341 million (6.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $263.5 million (5.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $202 million (3.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $181.8 million (3.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $154.6 million (3%)
- Iron, steel: $113.7 million (2.2%)
- Other chemical goods: $105.2 million (2%)
Imported mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 230.6% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.
In second place for rising import sales were miscellaneous chemical goods, up 152.6%. Close behind were Zimbabwean imports of pharmaceuticals delivering the third-fastest gain up 150%.
Zimbabwean imports of cereals registered a respectable uptick of 134.9%.
Vehicles was the only declining category among top Zimbabwean imports down -36.1%.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2016, Zimbabwean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuel-related products:
- Processed petroleum oils: US$1.3 billion (up 288.3%)
- Electrical energy: $168.5 million (up 69.4%)
- Petroleum gases: $19.1 million (up 548.1%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $4.9 million (down -51.8%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $3.9 million (up 19,495%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $2.2 million (up 468.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.1 million (down -72%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $1 million (down -0.6%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $360,000 (up 207.7%)
- Peat: $349,000 (up 501.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Zimbabwean purchases of coke and semi-coke (up 19,495%), petroleum gases (up 548.1%) and peat (up 501.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fuel among Zimbabwean businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Zimbabwean importers spent the most on the following subcategories of cereals:
- Corn: US$296.7 million (up 182.8%)
- Rice: $109.9 million (up 313.8%)
- Wheat: $97.9 million (up 51.7%)
- Sorghum grain: $12.3 million (down -37.4%)
- Barley: $1.8 million (down -69.6%)
- Oats: $45,000 (up 87.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Zimbabwean purchases of rice (up 313.8%), corn (up 182.8%) and oats (up 87.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported cereals among Zimbabwean businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Zimbabwean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers:
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$93.3 million (down -4.4%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $28.5 million (up 15.6%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $15.9 million (up 25%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $15 million (up 26.5%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $13 million (up 101%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $11.5 million (up 506.6%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $9.3 million (up 130.1%)
- Electric storage batteries: $8.3 million (up 14.4%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $7.5 million (down -19.4%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $7.2 million (down -30.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Zimbabwean purchases of TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras (up 506.6%), TV receivers/monitors/projectors (up 130.1%) and unrecorded sound media (up 101%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Zimbabwean businesses and consumers.
In 2016, Zimbabwean importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles:
- Trucks: US$113.1 million (down -58%)
- Cars: $109.2 million (down -21.4%)
- Tractors: $45.7 million (down -11.8%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $24.8 million (up 16.1%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $17.9 million (down -29.6%)
- Trailers: $15.8 million (up 15.5%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $8.4 million (up 123.7%)
- Motorcycles: $3.1 million (down -30.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $2.1 million (down -30.1%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $666,000 (up 10.3%)
The only top vehicles subcategories for Zimbabwean imports to increase from 2009 to 2016 were: special purpose vehicles (up 123.7%), automobile parts and accessories (up 16.1%), trailers (up 15.5%) and motorcycle parts and accessories (up 10.3%).
Decliners range from -11.8% for motorcycle parts and accessories to -58% for imported trucks.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different product subcategories of imported vehicles among Zimbabwean businesses and consumers.
See also Zimbabwe’s Top 10 Exports, Top African Export Countries, Top South African Import Partners and Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 6, 2017
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 6, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 6, 2017