Businesses to benefit from bilateral agreements 

Source: Businesses to benefit from bilateral agreements | The Herald July 27, 2018

Shamiso Dzingire Bulawayo Bureau

BUSINESSES venturing into export markets could take advantage of trade benefits offered by Zimbabwe’s bilateral and regional agreements to grow their businesses.

Zimbabwe is signatory to trade agreements with the Sadc and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Recently the Government signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement  (AfCFTA).

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2018 Bulawayo edition of the Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness (MBIC) training yesterday, Zimtrade associate trainer, Mr Dennis Choguya, said trade agreements enable exporters to by-pass certain trade barriers.  The training, which was organised by the national export promotion agency, Zimtrade continues today.

“A trade agreement can mean we pay very little or no tariffs. It can also mean that our product is accepted better or it is exempt from certain taxes,” Mr Choguya said.

“So, if you take advantage of a trade agreements, it means by the time you venture into that export market, you would have paid less to access that market so you already have a cost advantage.”

Mr Choguya also said that trade agreements give exporters price competitiveness as well as quicker and easier markets. He, however, bemoaned lack of knowledge and failure by most exporting organisations to get certified by foreign bodies. The trade trainer said it was important that exporters certify externally so that the regulatory bodies testify of the quality standards of goods especially given that most people hold an incorrect perception about Zimbabwe and the abilities of local companies.

“You can assume you have the right quality but your foreign clients do not know you. So, they will need a regulatory body to testify that your product is of the right quality. Certifying with foreign bodies like the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Tanzania Standards Bureau will go a long way in convincing external customers that this product has been seen, has been certified and is of the right quality,” said Mr Choguya.

He also emphasised the need to create awareness especially at managerial levels so that resources can be committed.

Mr Choguya stressed the need for companies to register their trademarks to protect their customers from receiving fake products. During training, most participating companies indicated that they have not registered their trademarks with intellectual property organisations.

“As an exporting company, you need to protect yourself and your customers from receiving fake products with a brand that resembles yours. If you trademark your brand, people know that they cannot abuse it,” said Mr Choguya.