Zimbabwe needs to prioritise value addition and grow non-traditional exports in order to deal with its huge trade deficit that is an albatross on the economy, ZimTrade acting CEO Allan Majuru has said.
This comes after latest information from Zimstat showed Zimbabwe's trade deficit between February and April 2018, at $860 million, was 69 percent above the same period last year.
ZimTrade is currently working with relevant partners in Government and the private sector towards ensuring the economy moves away from exporting commodities and minerals towards the export of value added products.
"The ideal scenario would be to have investments aimed at value addition so that we retain more value locally and also we do not export jobs," Mr Majuru told The Herald Business in an interview on Friday last week, adding priority is given to niche products for niche markets.
Mr Majuru also said efforts were being made to ensure formal facilitation of trade in services and lobbying for reduction in the cost of doing business under ZimTrade's mandate.
From January 2017, Zimbabwe's major exports were gold and tobacco while the major raw materials which are being imported include crude soya bean oil, polyethylene in primary form, mixtures for fertiliser manufacturing, cyanides, potassium chloride, vitamin additives, soya bean oil cake, potassium chloride, and polypropylene in primary form, among others.
The machinery, which was imported during the period under review included tractors, bulldozers, excavators, boring machinery, telecommunication machinery and equipment, combine harvesters and pumps for liquids.
According to a presentation made by Mr Majuru at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual general meeting on Thursday last week, ZimTrade has made various initiatives that are still ongoing to streamline export procedures and enhance export capacity.
As part of enhancing export capacity, ZimTrade signed MoUs with Agribank and Homelink to provide finance at concessionary rates to potential and existing exporters. The funds were availed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and underwritten by the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC). The facilities have no limit.
Zimtrade also has a term sheet with Metbank for the provision of finance at concessionary rates to potential and existing exporters.
There are also ongoing technical programmes meant to enhance production efficiencies, product quality and competitiveness.
These include PUM, the Netherlands Technical Intervention Programme where experts have come in the sectors of horticulture, leather and leather products, engineering, honey, furniture, clothing and textiles as well as logistics. Mr Majuru said that An EU-ACP trade capacity building programme for support to more than 25 irrigation schemes and cooperatives involved in horticulture in the Eastern Highlands is in place. The programme will assist with expertise, training and access to international markets.
An SES (German) Technical Intervention Programme is also working in the clothing as well as the arts and crafts sector. ZimTrade is the national trade development and promotion organisation formed in 1991 through a partnership between the Government and the private sector to energise Zimbabwe's export growth. The body offers market intelligence, export development, export promotion and advocacy.