Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has availed a $200 million revolving fund for exporters that is being disbursed by different banks.
ZimTrade board chairman Mr Lance Jena said last Thursday that companies that want to benefit from the fund should engage their respective banks.
Mr Jena who was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the 2017 Annual Exporters Conference in Harare said the money was already with the banks.
“The $200 million is part of the many schemes that include the export finance, youth finance, retooling facility meant to boost the economy. The thrust is to ensure that industry is export ready,” he said.
Mr Jena said the idea is to have some arrangement between banks, ZimTrade and export credit guarantee companies so that companies that want to access the fund are assessed and if they qualify they then access some collateral in the form of insurance.
Zimbabwe’s exports are mostly raw minerals and tobacco and many exporters face numerous challenges.
These include constraints in accessing affordable trade finance, capital expenditure, working capital, standards and standardisation as well as regulatory and governance related issues.
Mr Jena said ZimTrade as the country’s sole trade agency and its partners, were developing the package with the hope of making a big announcement “very soon”.
“In the meantime we want to make our businesses ready and warm up to take advantage of this package. The funding support is mainly coming from the central bank.
“The RBZ is coming up with these schemes and facilities because it wants companies to export and earn foreign currency. That is the objective that is driving them to do that,” said Mr Jena.
He urged exporting businesses to apply for the funding to boost their businesses and increase export earnings.
“We are not waiting, we want our exporters to start visiting the banks today. If there are any bottlenecks, we need such feedback so that the shortcomings are addressed urgently,” he said.
Zimbabwe has to earn foreign currency if it is to improve liquidity and boost domestic production. Exports are essential for the country to reduce imports, which are blamed for the widening trade deficit,
In 2015 the country’s trade deficit was $3.5 billion and it dropped to $2.4 billion in 2016. In the eight months to August this year, trade deficit stood at $1.3 billion.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Mr Jena said ZimTrade was committed to working closely with producers at different levels to facilitate competitive exports.
“While these policy and advocacy initiatives have been put in place to improve the business environment for exporters, it is incumbent upon all companies to simultaneously build internal capacity for entry into the highly competitive global export markets,” he said.