SMEs exporters exposed to new markets

Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter

EXPORT-focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are undergoing a three-day capacity building training in Bulawayo on assessing new markets, available payment methods and being appraised on the  latest global export procedures.

The training began on 27 March.
Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital for a country’s economic growth, however, due to constraints in the business environment their contribution often does not  reach full potential, especially in terms of exporting goods to the European Union and other markets.

SMEs will be capacitated with the requirements which will help them understand the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) meant to promote trade between Eastern and Southern Africa and Europe.

Zimbabwe is part of the group of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) that signed the interim EPA agreement with the European Union in 2009.

The agreement is expected to boost bilateral trade and investment flows and thereby contribute to the creation of jobs and further economic growth in the ESA partners, while also promoting their sustainable development.

To support the management and implementation of the Zimbabwe EPA, the Government of Zimbabwe commissioned Technical Assistance (TA) to the Zimbabwe EPA Support Project (TAZEPA) in August 2018.

It is in that background that ZimTrade under the TAZEPA saw it fit to bring SMEs together for training so that they get to appreciate different requirements in the EPA agreement.

In an interview, Crown Agency expert responsible for the training Dr Dennis Chiguya said the programme will help exporters to understand their export needs.

He said it will help SMEs exploit trade agreements including Common Market for Southern Africa (Comesa) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The Government has been making strides to ensure that Zimbabwean exporters start getting benefits from the EPA, in line with that, the TAZEPA programme is there to capacitate exporters to understand procedures, and the export environment especially in the EU so that when they go there, they are better prepared,” said Dr Chiguya.

“So, in this training, we are going to look at issues of how can they access market data, what market databases are available, how do they navigate through a database, so that when the information comes through a database, they are better prepared and understand the requirement to enter a particular market and the expectations per each product before they access a market.”

Dr Chiguya added that they will be looking at export documentation, logistics, insurance, and international commercial terms because there are factor variables in export as they are updated regularly.

Mr Kudakwashe Tirivavi from ZimTrade said most of the companies are exporting regionally but they have the capacity to export to other continents.

“Local companies have the ability to export their goods even out of Africa and to Europe because most of them are  ISO certified. Therefore, in terms of standards, our products have the quality to even be exported internationally and we are trying to enhance those skills and see if they can export further,” said Mr Tirivavi.

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