Zimbabwe’s exports to the UK have increased by 276 percent to US$112 million in 2018 from US$30 million in 2012, according to ZimTrade, with Harare now working on strengthening bilateral and trade ties with London in preparation for BREXIT.
The UK is preparing to leave the European Union in the next few months and Zimbabwe has already drafted a bilateral trade agreement in preparation for BREXIT to strengthen the already existing trade relationships, ZimTrade said yesterday.
“Britain is working on leaving the European Union in the coming months and is now focused on strengthening bilateral and trade ties,” according to ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion agency. “Zimbabwe has drafted a bilateral trade agreement in preparation for BREXIT to strengthen the already existing trade relationships.”
In December last year Britain’s Department for International Trade (DIT) announced plans to set up an office in Harare.
The DIT office, led by Mr Tom Hill, a distinguished official with impeccable credentials from international private finance, is expected to chart a new paradigm in the United Kingdom’s economic relations with Zimbabwe.
Mr Hill told the Global Trade Review then that the decision to set up shop in Zimbabwe was motivated by the UK’s realisation that “Africa is an increasingly important continent to the UK’s prosperity and security interests”.
Zimbabwe’s trade with the UK is currently based on the Interim Economic Agreement.
Under the agreement, Zimbabwe is enjoying duty – free, quota free market access to the UK and other EU members. Since 2012, the United Kingdom has been one of the major source markets and export destinations for Zimbabwean products in the EU.
Last year, it was the third best export market, taking 21 percent of the product destined for the EU.
The composition of Zimbabwe’s exports to the UK were diamonds, mange tout peas, black fermented tea, oranges, unmanufactured tobacco, fresh avocados, sculptures, fresh peaches, fresh nectarines, fresh raspberries, passion fruit and jewellery, among others. Major imports were motor vehicles, tractors, telephone sets, spare parts, live animals, medicaments and laboratory reagents, among others.
While exports are increasing, of concern is the fact that the structure of trade is skewed in favour of commodities such as diamonds which constituted 72 percent of total exports in 2018.
“There is, therefore, need to support the export of value-added goods and services that have great potential in the UK market,” said ZimTrade.
ZimTrade has introduced different projects and programmes to educate local companies about export opportunities in the UK market. To facilitate the penetration of this market, ZimTrade will do a market survey in the UK to promote and identify other products with potential. The organic food market is one such market, a niche where Zimbabwe has great potential. In 2018, the UK market was worth US$305 billion and has been on a continuous growth for more than seven years.
ZimTrade is currently working with 22 pineapple farmers in Ndiadzwa, Chipinge, for them get organic certification so that they can access the United Kingdom market.
Other Zimbabwean organic products with potential include dried fruits and vegetables, fresh fruits and vegetables, among others. Organic products have a premium price of about 30 percent more compared to other products. The UK has a population of 67 million with a Gross Domestic Product of US$2,6 trillion, a GDP per capita of US$39 526,2 and is ranked 9th among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.