The Sunday Mail

Norman Muchemwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the 8th edition of the ZimTrade Annual Exporters’ Conference in Bulawayo Thursday.

The conference, being held in Bulawayo for the first time since it was launched in 2012, and is running under the theme, ‘Rethink, Reform, Export!’.

More than 250 local and foreign delegates are attending the conference that is being spearheaded by the country’s national trade and development promotion agency, ZimTrade.

The aim of the conference is to foster dialogue and linkages between delegates and business leaders from different sectors and come up with solutions that will improve Zimbabwe’s trade balance.

Officially opening the conference, President Mnangagwa said this affords business and Government an opportunity to share ideas to boost exports.

He said hosting the event in Bulawayo is a noble idea since it is an industrial hub.

“It is an honour and priviledge for me to officiate at this year’s ZimTrade Annual Exporters’ Conference. During last year’s conference, which I was pleased to attend, we had very constructive dialogue regarding measures for creating and augmenting an enabling environment to boost our exports and international trade,” said President Mnangagwa.

“This year’s conference, therefore, affords us yet another opportunity to exchange ideas on how we can build on our achievements to further stimulate production, productivity and overall economic growth, through an export-driven strategy.

“I applaud the fact that this is the first time this forum is being held in Bulawayo, which is befitting, given that the city is an industrial hub and a Special Economic Zone. We look forward to more national meetings, events and conferences being hosted at this, our second largest city.”

President Mnangagwa bemoaned inadequate exports in the country adding that they are hampering economic growth.  

“Our inability to overcome the hurdle of inadequate export earnings, undoubtedly affects other sectors of our economy, along with the availability of essential commodities and services.

“Thus, 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 stablise and grow our economy.

“I would like to reiterate that Zimbabwe is open for business, hence we need to work together in creating an enabling environment for strategic trade and investments,” he said.

He added that there are ready markets outside the country for Zimbabwean products and the country should move from exporting raw materials but to add value.

As the country approaches the summer agriculture season, the President said, farmers should make bold decisions to produce enough for national food security.

Further, he urged provinces to take advantage of devolution to identify and take responsibility for economic activities in their regions to ensure full participation in export drive.

The event was attended by senior Government officials and business representatives.