Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe’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, Mr Similo Nkala, said despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has plagued the world, his organisation was going ahead assigning 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.
Mr Nkala said there are vast opportunities for Zimbabwe exports in sectors such as clothing and footwear, horticulture, beef and pharmaceuticals among others.
“Following the operationalisation of the AfCFTA, we resolved as ZimTrade to upscale our outbound market surveys to explore new markets for local products despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently, the trade and export promotion body conducted market surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Mr 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 I would want to point out is that when other countries’ 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,” said Mr Nkala.
He said there was a need to improve on the composition of exports so that companies have a wide range of value-added products.
About 70 percent of Zimbabwe exports are primary products comprising minerals such as gold, platinum and chrome as well as tobacco.
“In terms of our export markets concentration you find that in 1992, we were exporting to many countries and our products were diversified. At the 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,” said Mr Nkala.
He said the AfCFTA gives Zimbabwean companies an opportunity to diversify exports into North and West Africa.
The AfCFTA began trading on January 1 this year and 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. — @okazunga