The Chronicle

Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor 

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday officially launched the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy and the National Export Strategy Policy aimed at rejuvenating domestic production towards export-led economic growth and increasing the country’s foreign currency earnings.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade developed the two policies to buttress the new dispensation’s desire for a transformed, dynamic and internationally-competitive economy, driven by robust domestic and international trade. The move follows a realisation that Zimbabwe’s trade potential has not been fully tapped to enable the country to meaningfully gain from trade. 

The two policies are anchored on the need to balance the country’s trade interests by strategically opening up for business to promote mutual trade and investment. This takes into cognisance the challenges that have continued to impact on local industry, and the country’s commitments to bilateral, regional and multilateral trade commitments. 

President Mnangagwa, who also officially opened the 2019 ZimTrade Exporters’ Conference in Bulawayo, said the inability to generate adequate exports was negatively affecting other sectors of the economy and compromising availability of other essential commodities and services.

“There is an urgent need for both the public and private sectors to synergise our efforts and collectively take appropriate steps to boost our country’s exports, which is the most sustainable way to stabilise and grow our economy,” he said.

“The need for increased diversified exports of value-added goods and services, as opposed to the present reliance on the exportation of primary commodities, is now urgent and imperative.” He said there was a need to inculcate an inclusive culture of producing for exports amongst all producers, particularly the small to medium enterprises (SMEs). As such, he said, women and youth-owned businesses must be assisted to increase their capacities to innovate and effectively participate in the on-going export drive.

In line with the devolution mantra and this year’s conference theme “Rethink, Reform and Export”, the President directed provinces to identify and play a leading role in economic activities in their regions by ensuring that every citizen participates in growing exports and the economy at large.

“Provinces are, therefore, encouraged to develop export development strategies and plans aligned with the National Export Strategy (2019-2023) and the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy (2019-2023), albeit based on their respective resource endowments,” he said.

In that regard, the President challenged provinces to tap into ZimTrade competencies in developing their export initiatives as well as influence setting of export targets for companies at district and provincial levels. He stressed the need for increased collaboration in implementing necessary reforms to facilitate growth of exports, which requires constant dialogue in addressing issues highlighted under the Rapid Results Initiative on ease of doing exports business.

“We must all work with unity of purpose to facilitate trade and investment as well as ensure trade policy predictability and sustainability. To realise such export growth, we can no longer afford to work at a slow pace, everyone has to move with speed in their areas of responsibility,” said President Mnangagwa.

In view of the forthcoming summer cropping season, the President implored farmers to produce enough for national food security as well as for exports. He encouraged producers at every level to aim to have a minimum component of their total output going towards exports after satisfying local demand. 

The President said the effects of climate change coupled with the continued illegal sanctions have hampered Zimbabwe’s market access, access to credit finance and processing of international payments.

“Our current position, therefore, calls for robust, innovative, collaborative strategies and efforts to build productive capacity and generate value added exports,” he said.