Zimbabwe needs to export more manufactured goods and must look beyond South Africa, delegates at an export awareness seminar organised by ZimTrade in Victoria Falls this week heard.
The seminar targeted manufacturers of goods and services, as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Delegates said Zimbabwe's dependency on South Africa, which is the biggest destination for the country's exports, limits the economy, so local producers should diversify their market to widen opportunities to earn more foreign currency for the country.
The seminar sought to engage manufacturers of both goods and services to encourage them to diversify into the regional market.
ZimTrade Matabeleland regional manager Mr Similo Nkala said South Africa commanded 50 percent of Zimbabwe's market share, which was not good for the local economy since there is need for diversification.
"We have to diversify and not concentrate on specific products and country," he said.
"As ZimTrade, we are your partner and we have been conducting market research in the DRC, Germany, Malawi, Namibia, Angola, Botswana and Zambia so that we can really try and assist our companies.
"We found that there are opportunities out there."
Mr Nkala said capturing the foreign market was the only way to earn foreign currency for the country.
"Yes, things are tough, but find your niche and the question now is: do you have the means and are you able to supply?" he asked.
"The issue of us growing our exports is critical to economic revival and for us exporting is the only way to revive the economy.
"We rely on South Africa, which accounts for 50 percent of market share and the United Arab Emirates with 20 percent share, meaning that when South Africa catches a cold, we all sneeze.
"We need to go back to 1992 where we used to market in Italy, France, Germany, South Africa and many more, so in times of trouble we would rely on others."
Mr Nkala said the Botswana market used to earn the country about $200 million per annum, but had now gone down to about $31 million.
He said ZimTrade had since 2016 been engaging the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Office of the President and Cabinet on the ease of doing business under the Rapid Results Initiative programme to change some statutory instruments that had been identified as barriers to smooth exports.
Mr Nkala said so far, 22 instruments had been identified and 11 had so far been successfully amended.
Exporters also must establish partnerships in the export market country.
ZimTrade is helping businesses participate at trade expos around the globe.
Speaking at the same occasion, NMB Bank assistant manager for corporate banking Mr Robian Hove said the financial institution was ready to fund exporters who approached it as long as they were into the business of exporting goods.
He said no further collateral was needed, as long as the exporter had export documents.
Mr Dennis Choguya, who is an associate trainer for ZimTrade, challenged local businesses to come up with unique brands that could compete on the bigger market.
"People should start thinking about exporting and reduce reliance on one market," he said.
"When you get an opportunity to export, do it right and come up with unique products and brands."