Zim industry looks to exports for growth

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Harare - Zimbabwe’s industrialists have approached Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube to help them get improved export market access to make up for depressed domestic economic activity.

Most of Zimbabwe’s exports are destined for South Africa and Zambia, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), and this is not enough to support sustainable growth.

The CZI and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) say big opportunities have been opened up by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area.

AfCTA is a 1,2 billion-person market with a combined US$3,4 trillion GDP, in which barriers are being removed for the up to 90 percent of trade.

Zimbabwe’s businesspeople feel the government is not doing enough to make the most of this market, as well as that created by the Tripartite FTA.

 “The country should participate meaningfully in the regional and international economy and take advantage of AfCFTA and TFTA,” a paper presented to Prof Ncube by the CZI says.

“Opportunities for synergies with all neighbouring countries to establish One Stop Border Posts and enhance efficiencies and collaboration need to be executed to improve flow of trade. External inflows decline where manufacturers see profitability by selling locally. One of the key measures to ensure export competitiveness is to allow all raw materials to be imported duty free.”

Researchers at advisory services firm Morgan & Co said domestic demand was diminishing and Zimbabwe’s companies need export markets. It added that the biggest opportunities lay in the region.

“The decline in economic activity has shrunk the opportunity set for many entities that have now become too big for the current operating environment,” Morgan & Co said.

“There are now less opportunities to grow and sustain operations given shrinking consumer wallets and a regionally uncompetitive operating environment base in most sectors which limits exports.”

The ZNCC said while government had started working on improving international trade, there were still more work to be covered.

“There is need for allocation of funds towards improving efficiency for boarder systems - modernise the infrastructure at ports of entry in line with changing global trends and business needs. There is need to digitise all Zimbabwe Revenue Authority operations at the borders, Zimra should move to paperless operations,” said the ZNCC.

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