Zim strengthens global ties to boost trade Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister Dr Musabayana.

Michael Tome and Malvern Nkomo 

ZIMBABWE will continue to strengthen its relations with the global community as part of strategies to grow international trade and open up new markets, a Cabinet minister said.

This was said by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, Dr David Musabayana at the tripartite inward trade mission for Kenya, Malawi, and Equatorial Guinea markets held by the national trade development and promotion organization, ZimTrade.

This comes after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) became operational in January 2021 and promises to be a game changer for the growth of trade on the continent.

The platform gave Zimbabwean companies the chance to engage potential buyers and understand their buying decisions as the country thrives to grow its export market. Target sectors for the mission encompassed horticulture, fast-moving consumer goods, agricultural inputs and implements, building and construction, clothing and textiles, furniture, renewable energy, and pharmaceuticals.

The initiative is informed by the dictates of the National Trade Policy (2019-2023), which is premised on growing the country’s exports through product and market diversification.

According to Trade Map, the trade balance between Zimbabwe and Malawi in 2021 stood at  US$7,4 million in favour of Malawi with the main goods exported by Zimbabwe being electrical machinery, tobacco and ceramic products amongst others.

With respect to Kenya, Zimbabwe’s exports in 2021 amounted to just over US$17 million consisting mainly of sugar and sugar products as well as tobacco and tobacco substitutes.

Imports from Kenya totalled US$27 million and the main products were printed books, newspapers, and other products from the printing industry while trade between Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea is yet to find a good footing.

 “I have no doubt that the meetings lined up during this mission will go a long way towards building strategic partnerships for the mutual benefit of our countries, as we implement our various bilateral and regional economic cooperation frameworks.

“In pursuit of trade and investment cooperation, I would like to urge you to consider collaborative efforts, particularly in the areas of innovation, technology transfer, and sustainable development, which are critical to our shared future.

“These are part of the building blocks for sustainable industrialisation for the African continent,” said Deputy Minister Musabayana. 

ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru said there was immense potential for expanding the range of products and markets that can be traded between Zimbabwe and the named countries.

He said diversifying local offerings had the potential to significantly enhance the country’s overall trade volumes.

“The shared economic history needs to be transformed in terms of trade, investment, and tourism, as well as several other areas of mutual interest among these countries.

“The networks to be established from this event are expected to culminate in successful business relationships and increased trade volumes which would lead to mutual economic benefits.

“Despite Zimbabwe and these three countries having a trade pact and sharing cultural and historical ties, the trade volumes between Zimbabwe and these countries have remained relatively low.

“I urge all the local companies as well as companies here present, to take advantage of this forum to fully engage with the invited business delegation for win-win deals,” said Mr Majuru.

Kenyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Stella Munyi, said trade was the lifeblood of modern economies as it brings people and countries closer, which is critical for regional countries to foment partnerships.

“This convention follows a very successful study spearheaded by ZimTrade last year in Kenya. We hope this engagement can bring significant benefits to our countries, including economic growth, diversification of trade, access to new markets, and enhanced competitiveness,” said Ambassador Munyi.

Jose Ebang, Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said there was a big market opportunity for Zimbabwean produce in his country given that agriculture has been on a downward trend since the emergence of oil as the main commodity in the west African country.

“In the evolution of production over the years, a drop is observed, due to the centralization of the national economy in the oil sector.

“…products such as minerals, pineapples, peanuts, banana, avocados mangoes, papayas, coconuts have been without a market since 1968 up to date, we think we should work closely with Zimbabwe so that these products can find an outlet for export,” said Ambassador Ebang.

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