The national trade development and promotion organization, ZimTrade, is stepping up its efforts to improve the visibility of Zimbabwean products in regional markets.
To achieve this, ZimTrade organizes several activities aimed at creating strong links between Zimbabwean exporters and buyers in markets across Africa.
As part of the annual ZimTrade Exporters Conference, scheduled for October 20, a Buyers Seminar was held on October 19 where 10 top buyers from Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana and Botswana will be in the country to discuss the offer and other requirements with local companies.
Under the theme “Inclusive. Diversified. Connected”, the conference will bring together government, local exporters, industry players, academics, researchers and industry experts to discuss the best approaches to increasing exports and addressing the challenges faced by local businesses.
The conference aims to foster dialogue and connections among delegates as business leaders from different sectors come together to find solutions that will improve Zimbabwe’s balance of trade.
As has become the norm, the conference will be preceded by a buyers’ seminar where local exporters will participate in business-to-business meetings with buyers from African markets.
ZimTrade President Clara Mlambo said the focus on Africa is strategic because the markets are easy to access and present easy wins for local businesses.
“Zimbabwe is strategically located in the heart of Southern Africa, which gives us many advantages, especially on logistics where our products can land in neighboring countries at a competitive price.
“However, to unlock these opportunities, we need to strengthen relationships between Zimbabwean companies and buyers in these markets.
“The aim is to ensure that Zimbabwean businesses are well-connected across the continent and are able to close deals, fulfill orders and deliver goods easily,” she said.
Mlambo urged local businesses to take advantage of the planned inbound buyers mission to identify potential business partners who will boost their exports to the region.
“Given the amount of work and financial commitment required to identify potential partners in export markets, the local private sector must take full advantage of the internal procurement mission to connect with buyers and reliable distributors who will be in the country next week,” Mlambo said.
Inbound buyer missions are export promotion activities designed to build the confidence of the international business community in local industry.
Here, invited buyers from targeted markets will participate in business-to-business meetings with local businesses, where issues such as order quantities, prices, and other specific requirements will be discussed.
During the missions, buyers will also visit local industries to appreciate local production capacity and processes.
Along with enhanced commitments, Mlambo, also urged Zimbabwean businesses to take advantage of multilateral and bilateral trade deals a
Mlambo further declared the Pan-African Trade Agreement and other multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
For example, Zimbabwe currently has four operational preferential bilateral trade agreements from which exporters can benefit.
These agreements have been concluded with Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
With Malawi, there is a reciprocal trade agreement in place since 1995, with domestic value added requirements of 25%.
In Mozambique, the objective of the agreement in place since its entry into force in 2005 is to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers and to cooperate in customs and trade promotion.
The agreement provides for duty-free trade between the two members, with the rules of origin specifying a domestic value added of 25%.
With regard to multilateral trade agreements, Zimbabwe has applied the SADC Trade Protocol since 2001.
This protocol is an agreement between SADC member states to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade in each other’s products.
By lowering tariffs and removing other barriers to trade, SADC Member States aim to promote economic growth and regional integration.
For exporters within SADC Member States, they benefit from preferential tariff rates granted to products that comply with SADC rules of origin and are accompanied by a SADC certificate of origin.
In addition to this, Zimbabwean exporters also benefit from trade under the COMESA Free Trade Area, designed to promote regional integration through the development of trade and to develop their natural and human resources for the mutual benefit of all their peoples.
COMESA also has a Simplified Trade Scheme (STR), which helps small traders benefit from the preferential rates that traders enjoy when importing or exporting goods within the COMESA bloc.
The scheme operates between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Zimbabwe and Malawi and is used for goods that have been grown or wholly produced in the COMESA region.
The trader will complete a simplified customs document (declaration form) and a simplified COMESA certificate of origin.