Zim firms set to tap into Chinese market Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava

Business Reporter

Zimbabwean businesses are set to tap into export opportunities available in China as the Second Republic strengthens trade ties between Harare and Beijing.

Local businesses will engage with potential business partners in China during the Zimbabwe-Business Forum, scheduled for May 30 – June 1 2023, which has been organised by the national trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, to improve the visibility of Zimbabwean products in the Asian market.

This is in line with the economic diplomacy being championed by President Mnangagwa who has been at the forefront of championing the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Frederick Shava, said the programme complements ongoing engagement and re-engagement efforts by President Mnangagwa’s administration.

“The President has been clear that we need to establish viable networks that will ensure Zimbabwean products find a place in existing and new markets.

“We are expecting, therefore, to see improved exports of our value-added products into China through the business links that will be established at the business forum,” he said.  

Minister Shava also urged local businesses to take full advantage of the business forum to establish networks that will grow their exports into the market.

“We have witnessed an increase in Zimbabwe’s exports to China over the past few years, indicating more local products could find a market in the Asian country.

“The Zimbabwe-China Business Forum as a platform has been created to further the interests of the private sector so that they tap into vast opportunities available in China.  

“What is important is for local industry to leverage on this opportunity to create partnerships that will help drive their exports into China and its neighbouring countries that are currently difficult to reach,” Minister Shava said.

Minister Shava called on the business community to grab opportunities that are being facilitated by the government through its policy of affirmation, engagement, and re-engagement to increase their exports to China, and other emerging markets being opened such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Rwanda, and Belarus.

The Zimbabwe-China Business Forum will draw participants from Zimbabwean and Chinese governments, and industry players in sectors such as mining, energy, manufacturing, leather, technology, agriculture, processed foods, clothing and textile, packaging, building and construction, and engineering services.

It will also be attended by Chinese businesspeople seeking to do business with Zimbabwe and these include importers and distributors of goods and services in China, exporters of industrial machinery and technology, safari operators, project financiers, project managers, infrastructure development companies, and renewable energy suppliers.

China presents various opportunities for local businesses seeking to export value-added products and services.

Some of the low-hanging fruits for local companies include horticulture, processed foods, leather and leather products, and services.  

For example, Zimbabwe’s good climate favours the production of top-quality products that can perform well in the Chinese market.

When one looks at China’s import structure of citrus fruits, the opportunities for Zimbabwean producers are huge.

Trade statistics for 2021, show that China imported fresh and dried citrus fruits worth around US$532 million and most of it were grapefruit, mandarins including tangerines and satsumas, wilkens and similar citrus hybrids.

Other horticultural produce with potential includes berries, stone fruits, and nuts.

Further to horticulture, there are huge opportunities to supply essential oils to China.

According to Trade Map, Zimbabwe has seen an expansion of its import bill of essential oils and resinoids; perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations from US$7, 63 billion in 2017, to US$24,12 billion in 2021.

This growth has largely been anchored on imports of beauty or make-up preparations for skin care, whose import value grew from US$5,8 billion in 2017 to US$20,3 billion in 2021.

The growth of essential oils imports in China provides opportunities for Zimbabwean exporters to increase essential oils exports which are currently minimal.

Essential oils used in aromatherapy such as rosemary, peppermint and sweet orange oils are some products that local farmers and businesses could consider for exporting to China.

With abundant natural resources such as indigenous fruits and spices, value addition is another way for local producers to earn more on the Chinese market.

Wild plants such as baobab, marula, moringa seeds and mongongo nuts provide excellent opportunities to tap into the essential oil market in China.

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