ZIMBABWEAN companies can boost their exports by taking advantage of opportunities presented by the United Nations procurement system, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has said. This comes as the United Nations Procurement Division (UNPD) steps up its engagement of locals to participate in its procurement activities.
The global humanitarian organisation in conjunction with ZimTrade, recently held a business and vendor registration seminar in Harare to train locals on how they can participate in the supply of goods and services to the various UN agencies.
Speaking at the seminar director for international trade in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Mrs Beatrice Mutetwa said the UNPD initiative has the potential to boost Zimbabwe's export volumes.
"This is a great opportunity for eligible Zimbabwean companies to find a ready and reliable export market for their goods and services.
"This will not only benefit the companies themselves but the country as a whole," she said.
Despite the country still facing the challenge of a negatively skewed trade balance, the Government is actively trying to improve the trade situation.
In March this year, Government launched a new National Trade Policy (2012-2016), which seeks to increase overall export earnings by at least 10 percent on a yearly basis.
Official figures, however, show that as by May 2012, Zimbabwe had a trade deficit.
This is despite registering growth in both exports and imports.
Exports for the month grew from US$272 million in April to US$326 million compared to total imports for the same period, which reached US$525,6 million.
"This seminar has come at an opportune time for Zimbabwe, when the country has embarked on an aggressive drive to promote its value-added exports to sustainably generate foreign currency," said Mrs Mutetwa.
Zimbabwe is, however, conspicuous by its absence on the UNPD Procurement Volume by Country or Area list (2011), while neighbouring South Africa exported volumes to the tune of US$42,5 million during the period.
Developing and transition economies exported goods and services valued at US$1,7 billion out of a total of US$3,1 billion.
"It is disheartening to note that developing countries are the major contributors of the UN peacekeeping forces but their share of supply of goods and services to UN is very small compared to that of developed countries.
"One of the main reasons is the information gap and lack of exposure to the UN tender system and how to participate in UN procurement activities.
"The seminar, therefore, is very crucial in bridging the gap and Zimbabwe would be very grateful to make bigger her slice of cake in the supply of goods and services to UN," said Mrs Mutetwa.
"Registering with UNPD is the first step to be considered for participating in tendering exercises in an easy and systematic way," said a representative of the Procurement Division during the seminar.