GOVERNMENT is developing and implementing strategies to overturn unsustainable trade imbalance as it forges ahead with its efforts to make Zimbabwe an export-oriented economy, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Addressing delegates attending ZimTrade Exporters’ conference held in Harare last week, Mnangagwa said the country’s trade imbalances were unsustainable and should be corrected.
“Zimbabwe’s unsustainable trade imbalance is a contributing factor to the prevailing foreign currency shortages. To arrest this situation, we are developing and implementing strategies to overturn the gap and make Zimbabwe an export-oriented economy,” Mnangagwa said.
“Government is aware of the challenges that threaten to undermine the viability of our productive sectors.
Key among these is the issue of foreign currency shortages.
This is affecting retooling and procurement of critical raw materials.”
The conference was held under the theme: ‘Accelerating Export Growth for Sustainable Economic Development.
Mnangagwa said government was currently engaging multilateral institutions for lifeline support, whilst implementing long-term strategies to resolve the recurrent problem.
He said exporters played an important role in generating foreign currency and government was committed to creating an environment that is conducive for the export business.
In his “Zimbabwe is open for business” campaign, Mnangagwa has led business delegations to many parts of the world where he has secured trade and investment commitments worth billions of dollars.
“I urge Zimbabwean companies to take advantage of the renewed confidence ushered in by the new dispensation to invest in recapacitating our industries to increase exports to the region and beyond.
This will contribute to job creation on the road to Vision 2030.”
Speaking at the same event, ZimTrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru also said the unsustainable current account deficit was negatively affecting the country’s economy and was contributing to the current foreign currency shortages.
In 2017, imports were $5 billion while exports were only $3,5 billion.
“Our interactions with industry show that delays in the processing of foreign payments for the importation of critical raw materials are causing unnecessary production disruptions.
As a result, industry is losing export orders, further compounding the situation,” Majuru said.
“The good thing to note is that some of these issues are being addressed with the recent policy pronouncements.”
Zimstat trade statistics show that export products are concentrated around commodities such as minerals (gold, nickel, ferro-chromium and industrial diamonds) and unprocessed tobacco, with value-added products contributing less than 15%.
“This has an effect of exposing us to price volatility associated with commodities.
Value addition is the answer and as ZimTrade, this is where our mandate lies in terms of promoting the export of value added gods and services,” Majuru said.