Industry and Commerce minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu has challenged Zimbabwe’s manufacturers to adopt new technology and scale up innovation through increased research and development investments in order to boost export competitiveness.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
“There is need for the productive sectors to devise strategies to improve on exports competitiveness.
The global environment is constantly changing and our companies are lagging behind in terms of adoption of new technologies, research, development and innovation,” Ndlovu said at the ZimTrade Exporters’ Conference held in Harare last week.
“I wish to encourage exporters and potential exporters to keep abreast with developments in the global markets and leverage on these changes to export high quality goods at competitive prices.”
Ndlovu said his ministry would engage industry to find ways to deal with challenges currently affecting the development and growth of exports.
He urged industry to diversify to high-value exports of goods and services through value-added manufacturing, which would unlock more foreign currency earnings for the country.
Diversification of the export base was also key to sustainable economic growth and development, according to Ndlovu.
“Zimbabwe’s exports for over the years have been largely subdued, falling short of their potential to drive the economic growth and development.
A number of factors, including supply-side competitiveness and trade facilitation challenges, have affected the ease of doing export business and hence poor export business,” Ndlovu said.
“It is pleasing to note that exports for the country have been on a growth trend, growing by 36% from $2,8 billion in 2016 to $3,8 billion in 2017.
The growth trajectory is expected to continue in 2018. However, the sad reality is that the main drivers of these export earnings are minerals and tobacco.”
Manufactured and value-added goods and services only accounted for just about 20% of the export basket.
Ndlovu said robust export development and promotion strategies were key to correcting Zimbabwe’s persistent and unsustainable trade deficits.
In the first half of this year, the trade deficit has increased by over 30% to $1,6 billion from $938 million during the same period last year.
Between February and June 2018, a deficit of $1,3 billion was reported. Imports amounted to $2,9 billion against exports of $1,6 billion.
“This is not a sustainable state of affairs for economic growth and development, hence the need for robust export development and promotion strategies targeted at increasing exports,” Ndlovu said.