Market surveys conducted by ZimTrade every year have started paying off, with local companies having clinched deals and some setting up shop in foreign countries, industry officials have said.ZimTrade, the country’s export promotion body, has been conducting market surveys in countries around Africa to identify trade and investment opportunities for Zimbabwean products and services.
The surveys also provide Zimbabwean companies with verified information on potential business counterparts, off-distribution channels, payment systems and customs procedures, among other services.
Some of the countries surveyed included Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Namibia.
Industry officials last week told Standardbusiness that the surveys were now bearing fruit as a number of local companies had opened shops or clinched business deals in the markets where they were conducted.
They, however, said more needed to be done for the country to fully benefit from the surveys.
“Yes, the surveys are helpful and some members have clinched deals, but we need more local companies to be competitive in terms of quality and pricing. The Rapid Results Initiative should address the above [competitiveness in terms of quality and pricing],” Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Busisa Moyo said.
Association for Business in Zimbabwe CEO Lucky Mlilo said a number of their members had taken advantage of the promotions by ZimTrade and had established markets in those countries the body had conducted surveys.
“These surveys have been of benefit to industry as they act as a launch pad for companies to make decisions on whether to do business in these countries or not. The information gathered by ZimTrade has been of tremendous help in decision making by these companies,” he said.
“Some of our members have established markets in the countries that ZimTrade has conducted surveys in and we continue to commend the export promotion body for its efforts.”
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president, Davison Norupiri said he cherished the work being done by ZimTrade, but urged them to spread their wings to larger corporates.
“Generally, ZimTrade is doing a good job. It used to be in the grave but they are coming up. However, they should cover all potential business on exports so that we realise fresh income into the system. We are quite happy as business,” Norupiri said.
ZimTrade CEO Sithembile Pilime said several companies in Zimbabwe had set up businesses in countries such as Mozambique following surveys they conducted a few years ago.
“We have several companies that are now exporting. In 2012, we did our first trade mission in Mozambique and we went with over 20 companies and among them only four had been there. Now we have companies that are plying the Tete area almost daily and they are doing good business,” she said.
“We have taken companies to Angola and they have found opportunities there. Sometimes it might take time to develop and get to a point where they start supplying orders but things are happening. We even have companies that have set up business on their own in countries like South Sudan.”
However, textile sector players say that the surveys have not yielded much for them.
“Not as yet and no exports have been done. ZimTrade must liaise closely with companies so as to achieve expected results,” Zimbabwe Textile Manufacturers’ Association secretary-general Raymond Huni, said.
Mlilo said government should offer export incentives for companies to be competitive.
“While we may agree that there are enormous advantages of expanding markets by exporting, there are still some related challenges that continue to affect Zimbabwean companies on the policy side, such as lack of enough export incentives compared to what other competing countries offer their exporters,” he said.
Last year, the central bank unveiled a 5% export incentive under the $200 million facility guaranteed by the African Export-Import Bank.
Companies in Zimbabwe have been struggling to boost their sales through exports due to bottlenecks in the export sector.
Some of the major challenges affecting the export sector include complex and burdensome procedures administered by multiple regulatory agencies, low prices from the exports of non-value added products, high cost or delays caused by domestic transportation, corruption at border posts, limited access to trade finance from local and international financial institutions, multiple taxes/ levies charged, centralisation of agencies in major cities and uncompetitive prices for imported inputs.
These bottlenecks, industry officials said, rendered Zimbabwean products uncompetitive internationally.
Government is currently pushing for the expedition of the country’s National Export Strategy that is set to address bottlenecks in the export sector as industry players move towards improving competitiveness of local products on the foreign market.
The National Export Strategy is meant to achieve competitiveness, value addition and export diversification in areas of comparative advantage.
The strategy is expected to spur growth of the export sector and restore confidence in the local industry that has over the years been affected by the influx of cheap imports, according to government.
However, industry is worried about the slow pace that government has taken to implement this strategy.
Currently, Zimbabwe’s export base is in the negative owing to low industry productivity and lack of competitiveness.
Latest figures released by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency reveal that Zimbabwe imported goods worth $385 million in January, against exports of $259 million.
Major exports during the month under review included flue-cured tobacco worth $99,7 million, $29,3 million nickel, $7,5 million chrome, $8,55 million diamonds, $56,71 million gold and $26,12 million ferrochrome.
In 2016, Zimbabwe’s exports decreased by 7% to $3,37 billion from $3,61 billion the previous year. Imports also declined by 11% over the same period, to $5,35 billion from $6 billion in 2015. Source: Standard Newspaper
Publish Date: Tuesday 14 March 2017