The Sunday Mail
ZimTrade is seeking to refocus the country’s export concentration that is now led by South Africa and products composition where minerals and commodities are dominating, according to the trade body’s chief executive officer Allan Majuru.
The drive is in sync with the new dispensation’s focus to revamp the country’s export strategy so that it can be anchored on value added and beneficiated goods as well as manufacturing sector driven as expounded by President Mnangagwa.
Presenting a paper at an exporters’ breakfast seminar last week, Mr Majuru, said Zimbabwe used to boast of a healthy export basket as far back as 1992 before it took an “unhealthy” direction at the turn of the millennium. The present situation, he said, places Zimbabwe in a disturbing predicament where if the South African market were to get into problems, Zimbabwe will suffer substantially as 52 percent of exports are going to the southern neighbouring country.
Comparing the country’s 1992 export market concentration to that of 2018, Mr Majuru highlighted the undesirable statistic where Zimbabwe now heavily relies on South Africa whereas in the past the country’s exports were going to all parts of the world including the UK, US, Netherlands, Germany and Japan.
“We once did it and we can do it again,” Mr Majuru told the exporters.
“If you look at 1992, our export basket was diversified, 22 percent was others, South Africa was 26 percent, fast forward to 2018 — 52 percent of our exports are going to South Africa.
“So what that actually means is if South Africa sneezes, we catch a flue. So we have to diversify our export basket,” he said.
Mr Majuru lamented the product composition, which is being dominated by mineral and commodity exports, while other beneficiated goods like textiles, clothing, motor vehicle service kits, and food have taken a knock. Mr Majuru called on the private sector to invest in reviving these sectors in line with Government’s economic blue print the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which seeks to champion private sector-led economic revival anchored on exporting value added goods.
“If you look at the product composition, 1992, we were exporting value added goods — textiles, clothing, transportation equipment, chemicals (and) processed foods, this is 1992,” he said.
“Come 2018, we are exporting minerals and commodities, so what we are literary doing is we are exporting revenue and we are exporting jobs. So when you talk to me about investment, this is where we need to put investment, in promoting value addition and beneficiation,” said Mr Majuru.
The ZimTrade boss said Government — through the national trade development and promotion organisation, had put in place systems to help exporters seeking markets.
This also includes those that seek to export to Europe and are willing to take advantage of the thawing relations between Zimbabwe and the EU bloc as a result of Government’s engagement and re-engagement drive.
“So what are we doing at ZimTrade to facilitate growth in exports . . . I will start with market intelligence. We have a Trade Information Centre (TIC). With the assistance of the EU (Europe) and the International Trade Centre we build the Zimbabwe-European Business Information Centre.
“(Through the Zimbabwe-European Business Information Centre) you can get the names of the buyers (in Europe and Comesa), the price they are offering and the tariffs that are applicable.
“So we encourage you to use this platform. We also have small-scale businesses that are also exporting, come through, we will do for you all procedures that are involved, prices and packaging and we do it for free,” he said.
Exporters can also take advantage of Zimbabwe’s bilateral trade agreements with countries like Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and others that ensures low or no tariffs on Zimbabwean goods.
In the TSP preface, President Mnangagwa highlighted the importance of exports, especially value added goods towards the recovery of the economy.
“Focus will be on value addition and beneficiation, to realise higher value exports, and cushioning the economy from the vagaries of international commodity price fluctuations associated with over-dependence on export of raw commodities,” noted the President.
“The success of the Programme will not depend on Government efforts alone, but on a coordinated collaborative multi-stakeholder approach.”