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Zimbabwe is targeting to increase local production of essential medicines from US$31,5 million to US$150 million as the country seeks to reduce imports of drugs, according to Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza.

Despite having a fairly strong infrastructure base, the country’s pharmaceutical industry is operating way below its potential due to funding constraints.

Companies such as Caps Pharmaceuticals, which used to produce about 65 percent of the country’s medical supplies has been operating below its capacity due to lack of adequate working capital.

Dr Nzenza said the Government would launch the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Sector Strategy in Zimbabwe (2021 — 2025 which also seeks to increase the market share of local pharmaceuticals from the current 12 percent to 35 percent by 2025 and to grow exports from 10 percent to 25 percent.

‘We are implementing the Zimbabwe Local Content Strategy, aimed at cutting down on imports, supporting the growth of industries and promoting job creation, Dr Nzenza said during the launch of the Swiss-Zimbabwe Business Chamber in Harare on Wednesday.

The strategy will employ several measures including boosting competitiveness via tax cuts on raw materials, diversifying production, providing favourable conditions for business, to meet the targets.

Dr Nzenza noted Zimbabwe was in the process re-orienting the industry to achieve the US$8 billion economy by 2023.

The industrialisation plan, commonly referred to as the US$8 Billion Road Map seeks to transform Zimbabwe’s 94 manufacturing and commercial sub sectors into an US$8 billion economy over a period of three years.

The Government has prioritised 10 value chains, six of them being agro-based, namely fertiliser, dairy, sugar, soya, cotton and leather. The other four are iron and steel; plastic waste, bus and truck assembly and pharmaceuticals.

“In order for us to attain our national vision of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by 2030, the industrial sector is one of the key strategic pillars,”

said Dr Nzenza.

“In pursuit of private sector led economic growth, manufacturing sector value added products, generation of foreign currency through increased manufactured exports and creation of employment are the key outcomes under the National Development Strategy 1.”

The Swiss-Zimbabwe Business Chamber seeks to facilitate investment and trade between the two countries and is set to boost Zimbabwe’s re-engagement and image building efforts.

The chamber will bring businesses together for the exchange of views and experiences, help find common ground and lobby the interests of its members.

In finding this consensus, it will strengthen the dialogue between Government and business.

Switzerland is one of the largest investors in Zimbabwe with companies such as Nestlé having invested significantly in the dairy value chain.

The two countries have signed an International Cooperation Agreement on Humanitarian Aid and Technical and Financial Cooperation in 2017.

The agreement provides for strengthened cooperation between Switzerland and Zimbabwe for the realisation of humanitarian, technical and financial assistance projects that contribute to sustainable poverty alleviation, democratic development, the promotion of peace and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Further, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) between Switzerland and Zimbabwe was signed to provide a conducive business environment for Swiss firms.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava, said the establishment of the Swiss-Zimbabwe Business Chamber augments “our efforts” for image building, international engagement and re-engagement.

The new thrust of the Government was to advance economic diplomacy to facilitate trade and attract foreign investors.

“This is well articulated in our Zimbabwe National Trade Policy (2019-2023), which seeks to propel Zimbabwe towards a transformed and internationally competitive economy driven by robust free and fair domestic and international trade,”

said Ambassador Shava.

It seeks to reform and open up Zimbabwe for free and fair trade in line with the multilateral trading system.

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