THE need to increase Zimbabwe’s exports will come under the spotlight when government, local exporters, industry players, academia and researchers among others meet in Bulawayo on Thursday for the ZimTrade annual exporters’ conference.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The conference, taking place under the theme, Rethink, Reform, Export is set to discuss best approaches aimed at addressing challenges faced by local businesses.
The conference will also bring together local exporters and buyers from other countries to share ideas that will boost exports of local industries.
From issues raised during the annual exporters’ conference, key outcomes that are industry-driven will be produced.
These resolutions will inform engagement activities that ZimTrade will use to facilitate on improving Zimbabwe’s export capacity and the ease of doing export business.
“In line with the devolution drive by the government of Zimbabwe, this is the first time the conference is being held out of Harare and given the status that Bulawayo has as an industrial hub and the declaration of the city as a Special Economic Zone,” ZimTrade said.
”The conference aims to foster dialogue and linkages between delegates and business leaders from different sectors who will come together to come up with solutions that will improve Zimbabwe’s trade balance,” it said.
The conference comes at a time major foreign currency earners such as gold, tobacco, nickel mattes and ferrochromium recorded a drop between February and August this year.
For instance, tobacco dropped by 26% to US$207 million, chromium ores and concentrates by 56%, gold 27%, ferrochromium by 17% and nickel mattes by 32% to US$234 million.
Only nickel ores and diamonds recorded an increase.
It also comes at a time when the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has projected that manufacturing sector capacity utilisation will drop to about 30% this year from 48% in 2018 due to negative macro-economic factors.
The conference will be followed by an awards gala dinner on Friday to recognise Zimbabwe’s leading exporters in a range of categories.
Among the international speakers is Ashraf Mahate, a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based trade and export market development expert.
“The information shared by the speakers will inform decisions on how Zimbabwean products can successfully penetrate and compete in international markets as well as best approaches to addressing current production challenges,” ZimTrade said.
To expose local exporters to opportunities in international markets, the exporters’ conference will be followed by a buyer-seller meeting scheduled for Friday.
Export opportunities and entry requirements from different markets of the world will be presented by buyers from Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Mozambique, UAE and the United Kingdom.