BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) has become Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner after South Africa, with exports from the southern African country to the Middle East powerhouse jumping 750% to US$1,7 billion in five years.
Officiating at the Dubai Inward Buyers’ Mission organised by ZimTrade yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade deputy minister David Musabayana said it was encouraging to note that trade between Zimbabwe and UAE remained at relatively high levels.
“In 2021, total trade between our two countries stood at US$1,9 billion having risen from a significant low of US$328 million in 2017. In 2021, Zimbabwe exported goods and services worth over US$1,7 billion to the UAE, while imports by the UAE amounted to almost US$200 million,” he said.
“These figures clearly demonstrate the existing unexploited trade potential that we need to tap into. Zimbabwe has a competitive advantage in horticultural and agricultural products which we can supply to UAE. Likewise, there are many products which Zimbabwe needs from UAE, among others, electrical equipment and machinery, spare parts for aircraft and motor vehicles, fertilisers and fuel.”
Musabayana said government had embarked on a number of programmes aimed at facilitating trade, nurturing exporting companies, assisting them to diversify their markets and producing high quality goods for export, not only to the UAE market, which remains a strategic market for Zimbabwe, but to the rest of the world.
“The government thrust is to assist exporters to build more effective global networks and working with the ZimTrade, the results are beginning to show. It is, therefore, incumbent upon exporters to continue to develop their competencies and to be aggressive in their marketing efforts, if they are to increase their global market share while supplying quality goods,” he said.
Musabayana said Zimbabwe considered UAE as a gateway to access markets in the Gulf Co-operation Council and the Middle East. Therefore, initiatives such as the Inward Mission were critical to opening up the UAE market, while also embracing the global perspective.
“The government encourages our companies to focus on value-added exports and diversify their products and markets as a strategic thrust to grow quality exports in a sustainable manner,” he said.
He said Emirati investments in Zimbabwe
have been on an upward trend over the past years, spanning across various sectors such as tourism and hospitality, information communication and technology, logistics and agriculture.
Musabayana also said the government was committed to ensuring that all investments, foreign and domestic, were secured and well protected through the rule of law and observance of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.
“Property rights will be respected and those that were violated previously will find recourse. The safety of investments is guaranteed and investors are free to repatriate their dividends,” he said.
In his welcome remarks, ZimTrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru said this year they were targeting to cross the US$2 billion-dollar mark in terms of exports to UAE.
“To our companies here in Zimbabwe, particularly to our small-to-medium enterprises, I think our target is to make sure that this year at least we get to the US$2 billion mark in terms of our trade and with such interventions we feel it will happen,” he
In the first half of this year, Zimbabwe’s total exports stood at US$3,3 billion, up 31% compared to the same period last year.