The Chronicle

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE’s trade development and export promotion agency, ZimTrade, says there is a need for the country to streamline export processes and procedures to increase trade benefits for the economy.

ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru, said enhancing the ease of doing exports would help reduce the trade deficit and reliance on imports.

“To address the trade deficit there is the issue of ease of doing business, but from our angle we look at it as the ease of doing export business.

The same way we want to facilitate investments to come into Zimbabwe, is the same way we should facilitate exports to go,” he said.

“We are advocating for a One-Stop Shop on investments and I think equally we should advocate for a One-Stop Shop for exports.

“In other words we are advocating for the streamlining of export procedures and processes so that we at least maintain export permits on commodities such as fertiliser, maize or wheat.

Those are selected goods but we open up the doors for people who export other products.”

Mr Majuru said in other countries such as South Africa, exporters were not subjected to a multiplicity of export permits and this was facilitating the growth and diversification of such countries.

“So, we need to work on a single electronic window where we also reduce interface with individuals to counter corruption,” he said.

Mr Majuru said ZimTrade was rolling out export training workshops to assist exporters including Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as large corporates to penetrate the export markets.

Under the export training programme, ZimTrade is imparting knowledge on how businesses can identify export markets, how companies and entrepreneurs can negotiate for export contracts, as well as branding and packaging products for the export market.

Mr Majuru said Zimbabwe also needs to work on a single electronic window where human interface is reduced to counter corruption and this will go a long way in growing and diversifying exports. Over the years, South Africa has been Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner with over 50 percent of the country’s total exports destined for the neighbouring nation.

“Besides growing our exports we also need to diversify our exports into the region to countries such as Angola and Mozambique where there is a ready market for horticultural and dairy products,” he said.

“Since April 2019 to date, exports amount to US$924 million while during the corresponding period in 2018 exports were around US$964 million.

“Imports were US$1,7 billion during the same period in 2018 but now there are US$1,1 billion and the reduction is due to challenges in accessing foreign currency to access raw materials but there are also other challenges there.”

In the first quarter of the year, the country’s major exports were minerals and raw materials for foreign companies.

“And what this simply means is that we are exporting jobs as we are giving the foreign companies the raw materials to process, value add and make money as they re-export back to us as finished products. So we need to address that,” said Mr Majuru. — @okazunga