THE South African government’s Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is not exhibiting at this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), a major blow for the trade showcase.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner and dti was expected to lead trade delegations from that country.
dti representative at the South African embassy in Zimbabwe, Frank Stevens said due to austerity measures and budgeting constraints, they decided not to fund the visiting delegation of the 2018 ZITF edition.
“There are a couple of reasons, but the main reason was finance, they did not have money to pay for the delegation this year,” he said.
“They had a big cut to the budget during the mid-term last year and they had to sacrifice a few programmes.
“Do you know that the dti normally pays for the delegation?
“So, for last year, due to austerity measures, they cut a few programmes, which they are not going to fund anymore.
“It was also poor budgeting on their side.”
Stevens said dti’s failure to fund a delegation to ZITF was just for this financial year.
dti’s failure to send a delegation could be a blow to Zimbabwe, as in 2016 the department said it had recorded export sales of R10 million during the trade fair period and was boisterous about prospects in 2017.
During the 2016 ZITF, the dti said it had secured 431 trade leads and 21 Zimbabwean agents were appointed, showing the scale of the loss Zimbabwe could suffer due to their lack of participation.
The figures for 2017 were not available.
Zimbabwe and South Africa have had an uneasy trade relationship since the former introduced a statutory instrument banning a host of goods from importation, which largely affected its southern neighbour.
According to Zimstats, between January 2017 and last month, Zimbabwe imported $2 546 675 154 worth of products from South Africa, with $2 013 695 746 being from 2017 only.