TWENTY Zimbabwean firms will next month get an opportunity to showcase their products in England courtesy of trade exhibitions and business to business meetings organised by trade promotion body ZimTrade and the United Kingdom’s Harare trade office.
This comes as Zimbabwe is exploring ways to strengthen bilateral and trade ties with the UK ahead of Europe’s second biggest economy’s exit from the continental trade block, the European Union.
ZimTrade said it had partnered the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) in Harare for an outward mission, which will enable 20 local companies to take part in trade exhibitions and business-to-business meetings in London, Coventry and Birmingham. The objective is for the Zimbabwean companies to establish contacts and ultimately to expand their export markets.
“The mission, taking place from the 2nd of September to the 6th of September 2019 is expected to kick start with a trade and investment seminar and B2B meetings in London, followed by a trade exhibition at the Specialty and Fine Food Fair on the 3rd of September,” ZimTrade said.
Local companies attending the mission have been drawn from industry sectors which include clothing and textiles, horticulture, leather products, arts and crafts, processed foods, biometric access control systems, among others. Of the 20 local companies attending, there are 5 new exporting companies who are ready to explore the UK market for the first time.
ZimTrade Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Allan Majuru, said that they were expecting a fruitful mission and had an itinerary in place to make the most of the time abroad.
“As ZimTrade, our core mission is to develop and promote trade and, on this particular mission, we shall meet various companies and organisations such as buyers of horticultural products, FMCG companies, suppliers of yarn and fabric, departmental stores, art galleries, art and craft centres, among other relevant interests,” he said.
Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom already share a trade agreement under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, which allows for duty-free and quota free market access to the UK and other European Union (27) members. The United Kingdom has been one of the major source markets and export destinations for Zimbabwean products in the European Union. In 2018 the UK was Zimbabwe’s third biggest export market taking 21 percent of the product destined for the EU. As a source market the UK was the biggest supplier, providing 22 percent of the total exports by EU to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s exports to the UK have increased by 276 percent to US$112 million in 2018 from US$30 million in 2012, according to ZimTrade, and Harare is now working on strengthening bilateral and trade ties with London in preparation for BREXIT
Whilst exports are increasing, of concern is the fact that the structure of trade is skewed in favour of commodities such as diamonds which constituted 72 percent of total exports in 2018.
There is, therefore, a need to support the export of value-added goods and services that have potential in the UK market. Apart from the outward mission, ZimTrade has introduced different projects and programmes that educate and equip local companies to take advantage of export opportunities in the UK market. These projects include the Ndiadzwa pineapple project in Chipinge where 22 pineapple farmers are being assisted to obtain organic certification so that they can access the EU and other international markets.
The UK is working on leaving the EU in the coming months and is now focused on strengthening bilateral and trade ties with other partners outside this continental grouping.
Zimbabwe has drafted a bilateral trade agreement in preparation for BREXIT to strengthen the already existing trade relationships. This will also open up new trade and investment opportunities for Zimbabwe on a bilateral level.