Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN businesses and their Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterparts are geared to increase trade and investment by leveraging on the cordial political relations between the two countries.
Currently, the level of trade between the two states are “very insignificant” with official data showing that last year total trade between Zimbabwe and DRC was US$1,7 million from an estimated US$1,2 million in 2019.
The proximity of the two countries presents a perfect opportunity for co-operation in agriculture production as Zimbabwe has the know-how while DRC also offers both the land and favourable climatic conditions.
Of late, the Government has invested much more in terms of training and capacity-building in the agriculture sector to ensure food security which can be shared with other countries.
The country has already started implementing the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy which targets a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, Dr David Musabayana, stressed the need to scale up trade gains with the DRC while speaking at the Zimbabwe/DRC Trade Forum in Bulawayo yesterday.
“It is worrisome to note that trade volumes between our countries is currently very insignificant despite the huge market size and a combined population of 101,44 million people,” he said.
“There is, therefore, need for the two countries to implement robust measures aimed at increasing and deepening trade.
“The Zimbabwe/DRC trade Forum was a follow-up to the Outward Trade Mission to Lubumbashi, which was undertaken by Zimbabwe in May this year where 21 local companies and over 100 Congolese companies participated.”
The purpose of the Outward Trade Mission was to facilitate business linkages between Zimbabwean and DRC companies with the aim of increasing trade between the two countries and setting a framework for the establishment of an annual business forum between the two countries.
The Zimbabwe/DRC Trade Forum was organised by the country’s trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade and its sister organisation, the Federation of Enterprises in Congo (FEC) from DRC.
The two agencies also implemented decisions of the Lubumbashi Outward Trade Mission by agreeing to hold the Zimbabwe/DRC Trade Forum.
As such, Dr Musabayana said the continuous holding of such forums and seminars annually will further strengthen and enhance trade between Zimbabwe and DRC.
“I am reliably informed that ZimTrade and FEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2021 to enhance co-operation and collaboration between the two organisations in all aspects of doing business,” he said.
“All these measures should be consolidated and result in increased trade between the two countries. The recently held outward trade mission in Kinshasa from 14 to 16 September is one of the efforts by Zimbabwe to harness trade and consolidate trade with the whole of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Zimbabwe and DRC enjoy cordial political relations dating back to the late 1990s. The deputy minister has since called upon the businesspeople in Zimbabwe and DRC to take advantage of the good political relations and convert them to meaningful business deals and partnerships.
“DRC has immense opportunities in its economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism, transport and education which Zimbabwe can tap into,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Katanga Provincial Minister of Economics and Commerce, Mrs Celine Kanyeba, reiterated that Zimbabwe and DRC share a common history and culture.
She said it was in this context that DRC was extending an invitation to Zimbabwean businesses to explore investment opportunities in that country.
“Our two nations have a common history and have almost the same culture. Investing in our province, you have property rights as your Congolese counterparts,” she said.
“Vast investment opportunities exist in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, tourism and agro-processing, among others.”
Earlier in his address, ZimTrade chief executive officer Mr Allan Majuru also hinted that Zimbabwe has vast investment opportunities that Congolese business can tap into.
“Zimbabwe is endowed with trade and investment opportunities for all sectors which DRC could tap into.
“The country has exquisite skills and expertise exploit that could be utilised in DRC,” he said. — @okazunga.