FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube yesterday said Zimbabwe should take advantage of the upcoming Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) set for next month in Egypt to improve export market diversification and tap into new markets in the wake of plummeting intra African trade.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
“Our thrust, therefore, as a nation is to diversify our trade within the African continent. As we prepare to be part of this forum, let us work together to enable us to put our best foot forward as a nation in terms of our exhibitions and engagements with potential buyers, suppliers and investors,” Ncube said at an IATF breakfast meeting.
In 2017, 93% of Zimbabwe’s total exports were into Africa, with 63% of that destined for the South African market alone.
In the same year, 53% of the country’s imports came from the African continent, with 40% being sourced from South Africa.
Last year, the country’s trade deficit stood at $1,8 billion after imports shot up to $5,5 billion against exports of $3,7 billion.
The bulk of the country’s exports comprise of platinum group of metals (PGMs), gold, flue-cured tobacco, ferrochrome, nickel, chrome, and diamonds. The country’s major exports to South Africa include PGMs, gold and nickel.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe told the same meeting that local industries were seeking robust partnerships in a bid to produce competitive exports.
“We have sectors such as iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, (and) agro-processing that can be partnered to export to the world. We have a challenge that the level of complexity is still low. Zimbabwe has got a number of companies producing predominantly for local consumption and yet these products can be supplied elsewhere,” Jabangwe said.
Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president Webster Rusere said financial discipline was crucial in attracting investors.
“Investors would like to be assured of financial discipline. Financial discipline from various institutions. This is very fundamental,” he said.