ZIMBABWE and Rwanda are working on strengthening economic engagement through the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC) which will provide a coordinated framework, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade David Musabayana has said.
This is a brainchild of President Mnangagwa and his counterpart President Paul Kagame after their engagements in July last year, where they agreed to establish a commission entrusted with strengthening the blossoming relations between the two countries.
Enormous opportunities to enhance bilateral trade are available, given that both countries are members of the COMESA Free Trade Area and the African Continental Free Trade Area that is coming into effect in July 2020.
Statistics in 2018 for Zimbabwe and Rwanda trade showed that US$156 000 was traded between the two countries from US$6 000 in 2011.
Zimbabwe exports to Rwanda increased to US$90 000 in 2014, before tumbling to US$4 000 in 2018.
The meagre trade volumes show that there is need to expand co-operation.
In an effort to prop up trade, the two countries have initiated the Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 24 to 26 March this year to facilitate trade and investment opportunities between the two, while learning best practices from each other.
Rwanda offers vast opportunities of trade to Zimbabwe, especially in the areas of horticulture, furniture, ICT, manufacturing, textiles, construction services, hospitality services and the agro-processing sector.
While addressing delegates at the Rwanda-Zimbabwe trade and investment conference on Wednesday, Deputy Minister David Musabayana indicated that Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from Rwanda's economic policies.
He said the policies propelled the country to be ranked number two in Africa in terms of ease of doing business.
"On the ease of doing business and other economic reform policies, Zimbabwe has been drawing important lessons from Rwanda, which has liberal economic and investment policies and laws that have promoted the ease of doing business," said Deputy Minister Musabayana.
Rwandese Ambassador to Zimbabwe James Musoni said Zimbabwe had competency for export opportunities to Rwanda which spends US$2,9 billion on imports.
"This conference will foster trade and investment relations between our two peoples on a win-win arrangement," he said.
"The intended Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference will enable Zimbabwean businesses to identify and explore opportunities in Rwanda, which are low hanging fruits."
ZimTrade chief executive Allan Majuru said Rwanda offered great potential for Zimbabwean investors.
"Zimbabwe recently launched National Export Strategy which spells out the need for us to increase exports of value-added goods by focusing on regional and African markets," he said.
"The Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference will offer local companies an opportunity to grow exports to Rwanda and contribute to the country's foreign currency earnings."
Zimbabwe aims to adopt several policies from Rwanda which has been on a growth trajectory since the end of the genocide 25 years ago.
The conference takes place at a time when the cordial political and economic relations between Zimbabwe and Rwanda are beginning to deepen following the decision by the two Heads of State and Government, President Mnangagwa and President Kagame, to set up Diplomatic Missions in their respective capitals.