ZimTrade targets export growth in African markets

10 Sep, 2023 - 00:09 0 Views
ZimTrade targets export growth in African markets ZimTrade is assisting the Mutare-based women’s centre, Gogo Olive, to tap into export markets. The intervention will see hand-knit dolls from the centre being sold to international arts and craft lovers

The Sunday Mail

Oliver Kazunga

Senior Business Reporter

ZIMTRADE says the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has created huge opportunities for Zimbabwe to cultivate new export markets and grow shipments across the vast continental market.

The country’s national trade promotion and development body is now looking to exploit the opportunities, while consolidating the country’s foothold in the markets it has already broken into.

Zimbabwe’s shipments into markets on the continent stood at US$3,1 billion last year.

The AfCFTA, which Zimbabwe is a signatory to, became operational on January 1, 2021, marking historical milestones towards continental economic integration.

Zimbabwe has deposited its instrument of ratification, a development expected to pave the way for the country’s full participation in the estimated US$3,4 trillion trading bloc and the world’s largest single market with about 1,3 billion people.

ZimTrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru said Zimbabwe has been able to sustain export growth over the past few years through the economic diplomacy thrust of the Second Republic.

“Our activities to create strong synergies between our industry and distributors in Africa and beyond have also contributed significantly towards sustaining upward export growth.

“Figures show that for the period ending December 2022, Zimbabwe exported goods worth US$3,1 billion to 31 African states.

“The largest trading partners included South Africa, with US$2,75 billion, due to its proximity to Zimbabwe.

“Other countries that took products from Zimbabwe last year in the region are Zambia (US$89,88 million), Botswana, (US$37 million) and Namibia (US$26,28 million),” he said.

“Participation in regional trade shows has also increased the footprint of Zimbabwean products in African markets.”

ZimTrade has also made strides in establishing new markets, which saw breakthroughs in a number of markets, including Sudan, where exports valued at US$20,3 million were shipped while the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received US$12,65 million.

Other new markets include Madagascar, where US$346 000 worth of goods were shipped, Burundi — US$310 000, Tunisia — US$225 000 and Ethiopia — US$154 000.

“Although these figures might seem low, we recognise the significant milestone in unlocking access to these markets and the target going forward is to leverage on these successes to grow exports and introduce more products,” said Mr Majuru.

He said the main target for Zimbabwe was to gradually increase its exports through diversification of markets and products.

Underpinned by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), ZimTrade seeks to increase total exports by at least 10 percent annually, from US$4 billion in 2018 to US$7 billion by the end of this year and US$14 billion by 2030.

Following the launch of the AfCFTA, Mr Majuru said ZimTrade has deepened its approach to connect local companies with leading distributors across the continent.

“Over the past few years, we have held several outward seller missions and inward buyer missions to create strong synergies between our exporters and buyers in markets such as Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Tanzania.

“We have also expanded to other regions with these programmes and other activities such as market surveys to uncover the potential for Zimbabwean products.

“We have noted huge gaps that local companies can take advantage of in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea and Senegal,” said the ZimTrade boss.

Local companies, through ZimTrade, will take part in the third edition of the Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in Egypt, scheduled for November this year.

IATF is an initiative that supports the implementation of the AfCFTA through facilitating improved linkages between businesses on the continent.

“The idea of the AfCFTA agreement is to create a single market for African goods by eliminating obstacles that make it difficult for African businesses to trade with each other.

“However, that is one component in the entire matrix as it is also important to ensure that products developed in one African market are also visible in another African market.

“That is where the IATF seeks to address the gap between businesses in African countries,” said Mr Majuru.

Economic analyst Mrs Mercy Shumba said the country has the potential to widen its export market base, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by initiatives that seek to promote intra-African trade.

“A few years ago, the African Union Commission established what is called the African Trade Observatory, which is a market intelligence system that informs businesses or traders of the various opportunities and products which other countries on the continent might have or have interest in.

“So, leveraging on such a market intelligence system, I see no reason why Zimbabwean companies cannot forge ahead with broadening their export earnings in the region,” she said.

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