– Business Weekly
THE country’s trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, has embarked on an aggressive outbound mission to explore more regional and international markets for local companies to improve exports earnings.
This comes as Zimbabwe is building the export momentum after 2020 recorded a 2,7 percent increase from the 2019 export figure of US$2,2 billion.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce trade conference in Bulawayo last Friday, ZimTrade operations director, Similo Nkala, said despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has plagued the world, his organisation was going ahead assigning their teams to conduct more market surveys across the continent for Zimbabwean products.
In the past, the trade and export promotion agency has undertaken market surveys in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola and South Sudan.
Nkala said there are vast opportunities for Zimbabwe exports in sectors such as clothing and footwear, horticulture, beef and meat, and pharmaceuticals, among others.
“With the coming in of the AfCFTA, as ZimTrade despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we will upscale our outbound market surveys to explore new markets for local products. “As ZimTrade we believe in finding the market first before exporting, so we will be coming in now where possible to conduct market research in new markets opening up as a result of the AfCFTA,”
Recently, the trade and export promotion body conducted market surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. As part of their outward missions, Nkala said ZimTrade would in the next two weeks assign a team to Dubai, to explore that market as the United Arab Emirates was being used as a springboard for products to enter the Middle East.
“The other thing l would want to point out, you find that other countries as their exports were going down in 2020, our own exports as Zimbabwe went up by 2,7 percent from the 2019 figure. From our end as ZimTrade, there is a lot that we still need to do on export of value-added products,”
“There is need to improve on the composition of our exports making sure we export diversified value-added products,”
About 70 percent of Zimbabwe exports are primary products comprising minerals such as gold, platinum and chrome as well as tobacco across the world.
“In terms of our export markets concentration you find that in 1992, we used to export to as many countries as possible, our markets were all diversified. “At the present moment, 40 percent of our exports are going to South Africa what we are saying as ZimTrade is ‘if South Africa sneezes definitely, we will catch a cold,”
“There is something that we need to do to diversify our exports. Right now, there is always that fear of the 55 countries under the AfCFTA, but are they (countries) really new? “During the Tripartite Free Trade Area that we had, we were already having a trade agreement with about 28 countries of those 55 countries. The AfCFTA gives us an opportunity to diversify our exports into North and West Africa.”
The AfCFTA began trading on January 1 this year and it is hoped that with a population of about 1,2 billion, the continental market is the world’s largest single market where an estimated US$3,2 trillion in Gross Domestic Product would be raised annually.