Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
President Mnangagwa has rallied manufacturers and producers to deliberately produce goods that can be exported to generate the much-needed foreign currency and grow the economy. He said provinces should develop export strategies based on the resources available in their areas, in line with the Second Republic’s devolution agenda.
President Mnangagwa said this while officially opening the ZimTrade Annual Exporters’ Conference on Thursday in Bulawayo, which ran under the theme, “Re-think, Reform and Export”.
“Our inability to overcome the hurdle of inadequate export earnings undoubtedly affects other sectors of our economy, along with the availability of the essential commodities and services,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Thus, there is an urgent need for both the public and private sectors to synergise our efforts and collectively take appropriate steps to boost our country’s exports, which is the most sustainable way to stabilise and grow our economy.
“I would like to reiterate that Zimbabwe is open for business, hence we need to work together in creating an enabling environment for strategic trade and investments.”
He said there was need for all stakeholders to “introspect and strategise on the weighty responsibility” of foreign currency generation.
President Mnangagwa said the effects of climate change, coupled with the continued illegal sanctions, hampered market access, access to credit finance and processing of international payments.
“Our current position, therefore, calls for robust, innovative, collaborative strategies and efforts to build productive capacity and generate value-added exports.
“The need for increased diversified exports of value-added goods and services as opposed to the present reliance on the exportation of primary commodities is now urgent and imperative,” said President Mnangagwa.
On Monday, the President launched the Mining Development Strategy and Roadmap wherein value addition and beneficiation are key tenets in a bid to create a US$12 billion industry by 2023.
The sector is expected to earn up to US$20 billion by 2030 when Zimbabwe anticipates to have become an upper middle income economy
President Mnangagwa said Government expects all sectors of the economy to draw lessons from the mining sector and develop their own targets to increase exports.
“Provinces are therefore encouraged to develop Export Development Strategies and Plans aligned with the National Export Strategy Policy (2019-2023) and the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy (2019-2023); albeit based on their respective resource endowments.
“In this regard, provincial ministries are urged to tap into ZimTrade competencies in the development and promotion their export initiatives.
“Let us set export targets for our companies, districts and provinces, to increase our country’s foreign currency earning,” he said.
The President also challenged farmers make bold decisions to ensure national food security and nutrition as well as produce for export.
He said producers at every level should aim to produce 80 percent for local markets and 20 percent for export.
“The culture of producing for export needs to be inculcated amongst all producers and in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“Women and youth-owned businesses must be facilitated to increase their capacities so that they too innovate and effectively participate in our ongoing export drive,” said President Mnangagwa.
All producers were challenged to fully exploit the increased impetus towards regional integration, and opportunities that arise from the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
AfCFTA, a continent-wide market of 1,2 billion people worth US$2,5 trillion, came into being on May 30 to create arguably the largest free trade bloc in the world.
President Mnangagwa said exporters must also leverage on Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement policy, to explore and re-ignite markets in all parts of the world, such as China, Russia, Europe and Britain, among others.
He also called on businesses to take advantage of the growing relations between Zimbabwe, Belarus, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, to develop the right competencies to enter the markets.
Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between ZimTrade and partner institutions in various countries must be fully implemented and exploited for Zimbabwe to generate forex, said President Mnangagwa.
He also called for the setting up of facilities such as testing laboratories, training institutes and packaging and warehousing support for local producers and manufacturers, to enhance export readiness and competitiveness.
Added President Mnangagwa: “The need for collaborations in implementing necessary reforms to facilitate the growth of exports cannot be over-emphasised.
“Let us remain in constant dialogue to address issues highlighted under the Rapid Results Initiative on Ease of Doing Export Business. We must all work with unity of purpose to facilitate trade and investment as well as ensure trade policy predictability and sustainability.”
He added that Government shall continue to play its part to ensure a conducive operating environment.
The President also urged all companies to insist on the use of the local currency for all local transactions, adding Government will continue to strengthen monitoring and compliance mechanisms.