A COUNTRY’S poor image can have negative effect on its economy and Zimbabwe needs to create a national brand to attract investments and improve trade, a Cabinet minister has said.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha told delegates who attended an exporters’ conference organised by Zimtrade yesterday that even the “fastest growing economies” used branding as a way of improving investment flows and trade.
“For Zimbabwe, the need for re-branding is even more demanding given the ‘assault’ on the image of the country in the international media during the last 10-15 years,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been receiving negative publicity from the international media since it embarked on land reform programme in 2000, which branded the country as unsafe.
“This conference therefore comes at an opportune time, where we need unity of purpose, mutual trust and respect in reworking the Zimbabwean brand,” said Minister Bimha. The conference was held under the theme “Creating Brand Zimbabwe.”
It focused on the need to create an effective brand for marketing Zimbabwe’s manufactured goods and for promoting inward investment and tourism.
“It is important that as we work on the brand Zimbabwe, all sectors of the economy are involved including our SME’s as these play critical role in job creation and export products,” he said.
Traditionally, most developing countries widely used tourism promotion as a major branding tool but have since expanded.
Presently, many countries are now using a wider range including goods produced in their countries, national projects, individuals, politicians, institutions, churches and media to promote attributes of the nation.
Speaking at the same conference, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said there was need for a holistic approach from all stakeholders to create the national brand for Zimbabwe to become a preferred destination for business.
Meanwhile, Minister Bimha said Zimbabwe may remain a net importer if it does not increase capacity and enhance quality to match other regional products and services. He said the trade deficit will continue widening. In six months to June, Zimbabwe exports amounted to $1,23 billion while imports amounted to $3 billion, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“One of the key issues that we are seized with as members of both SADC and COMESA is the enhancement of intra-regional trade,” said Minister Bimha.
“These economic blocs present challenges in that if we are not able to produce and exports goods into the region, we will remain a net importer from other countries.”