Zimbabwe is vigorously pursuing commercial diplomacy, with envoys at embassies now having their performances measured over how effective they are in fulfilling the country's goal to facilitate the growth of national exports of goods and services by at least 10 percent yearly to US$14 billion by 2030.
Last year, President Mnangagwa launched the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy Vision and Export Promotion Strategy which seeks to contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030 goals.
The National Trade Policy's strategic goal is to facilitate the growth of national exports of goods and services by at least 10 percent annually from US$4,5 billion in 2018 to US$7 billion in 2023 and US$14 billion by 2030.
Speaking at a three-day commercial diplomacy workshop for senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Harare yesterday, Minister Sibusiso Moyo said Government expected a shift of the mind-set of foreign service officers.
The shift should be from just making friends to making friends with an economic benefit to the country, with foreign missions expected to contribute towards the 10 percent growth of exports of goods and services.
"Our foreign diplomatic representation must, therefore, take international trade, investment and tourism promotion as their key result areas," said Minister Moyo.
"One of the key strategies of the National Trade Policy Vision and Export Promotion Strategy is to re-orient and capacitate our diplomatic missions to adopt economic diplomacy with trade and investment promotion activities being the priority focus areas."
Minister Moyo said Government was working towards addressing high levels of poverty, high rate of unemployment and an economy which is performing below expectations.
"Government is working hard towards addressing these challenges with a view to mitigate their impact on the citizenry," he said.
Minister Moyo said efforts were underway to create a conducive environment to attract significant and sustained Foreign Direct Investment.
"It is important to note that as Zimbabwe aspires to achieve sustained economic growth, it needs other countries," he said. "Guided by Pan-Africanist ideals, Government will continue to deepen its political and economic ties with African countries, some of whom have remained our major trading partners over the years.
"Government is also determined to protect all investments, including those covered by bilateral investment agreements. Government has resolved to address all BIPPA related issues and to compensate all those whose investments were affected by the land reform programme."
Minister Moyo said Zimbabwe should continue re-engaging with the West as this will widen the country's base of trading partners, as well as sources of foreign direct investment.
"Yes, we can have political challenges with the West, but this cannot stop us from trading with them," he said. "Gone are the days of the business of buying and selling. We want our diplomatic missions to identify opportunities for investments back home in the producing or manufacturing sectors.
"Diplomats will now be judged by results of investments they bring to the country and not the good English that they speak."