Prosper Ndlovu, Business Writer
A TOTAL of 30 Zimbabwean companies will participate in the Botswana World Expo 2022, which begins today in Gaborone as the country steps up its efforts to increase export earnings and steer robust economic transformation.
The annual multi-sector exhibition is organized by the Botswana Investment and Trade Center (BITC) and this year’s edition runs from November 1-4.
The country’s trade promotion and development agency, ZimTrade, has facilitated the participation of the 30 local companies, 26 of which will physically participate and the rest have sent their products to be showcased on the neighboring country’s main trading platform.
This year’s participation is a significant increase from the 15 companies that last participated in 2019 and the nine that participated in 2018.
The companies come from different sectors of the economy and for Zimbabwe this is very important as it relates to the broader trade and export development strategy, and its contribution to the achievement of the government’s Vision 2030.
Commenting on the assignment, ZimTrade Managing Director, Mr. Allan Majuru, said that Botswana is a strategic market for Zimbabwe, with several opportunities in sectors such as processed foods, building and construction, and manufacturing.
“Building on the good political relations between our two governments, Botswana Global Expo offers the opportunity to turn the relationship into economic gains, alongside the economic diplomacy program implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations,” did he declare.
“As we already have a bilateral trade agreement with Botswana, the participation of Zimbabwean companies in the Expo will help unlock opportunities by creating stronger links with key buyers in the market. Zimbabwean companies are already benefiting from trade in duty-free on eligible products when exporting to Botswana.
“As businesses participate in the Expo, we look forward to increased exports from Zimbabwe to Botswana, which will facilitate the achievement of the export growth targets set out in the National Export Strategy launched by President Mnangagwa” .
In line with ZimTrade’s trade development and promotion mandate, at trade events, local exporters have the opportunity to showcase their products and services with the aim of increasing their exports to overseas markets.
Zimbabwe’s participation in the show is guided by market research carried out by Zimbabwe in February 2018, which showed vast export opportunities for companies in the sub-sectors of building and construction materials supplies, food processed products, mining supplies, agricultural tools and inputs.
Exploration of these opportunities by Zimbabwean companies led to an increase in exports to Botswana from US$19.5 million in 2017 to US$31 million in 2018, according to official data.
Both Zimbabwe and Botswana are members of the Sadc and Comesa regional blocs under which they have agreed to create an enabling environment to promote the flow of goods and services across their borders.
ZimTrade has also urged local businesses to also take advantage of the bilateral Zimbabwe-Botswana trade agreement which was ratified in 1988.
The pact allows duty-free reciprocal trade on all products grown, wholly produced or manufactured wholly or partially from imported inputs subject to a 25% local content requirement.
Given its geographic centrality in the Sadc region, Zimbabwe is land-connected and shares borders with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.
This positions the country favorably to provide a logistics facility for trade in the region and beyond.
According to ZimTrade, Zimbabwe’s exports are largely destined for South Africa, followed by the United Arab Emirates and others.
Zimbabwe’s main export earnings come mainly from the country’s rich mineral wealth, including tobacco, platinum, diamonds, gold, copper, nickel and granite. The country also has rich soils and huge potential for horticultural exports.