Zim, UAE trade volumes reach US$1bn

Source: Zim, UAE trade volumes reach US$1bn | Sunday Mail (Business)

Golden Sibanda 

Trade between Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates has grown phenomenally to US$1 billion from US$490 million as diplomatic and business relations deepen.

In 2019, President Mnangagwa showcased local business opportunities at the Global Business Forum Africa (GBFA) in Dubai in 2019.

He had been invited by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. 

There is growing interest from the UAE to create new ties by exploiting mutually beneficial opportunities.

Figures from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), which were released during the UAE-Zim Food and Agribusiness Virtual Forum last week, show that the value of bilateral trade with UAE has shot up from US$490 million in 2011 to nearly US$1 billion by 2019. 

DCCI chairperson Majid Salif Al Ghurair told participants during the virtual forum — organised by DCCI, DEAT Capital (Zimbabwe) and DP World — that they intend to grow the trade and economic ties further. 

Last week’s virtual forum was designed to create a platform for knowledge sharing and expanding bilateral business opportunities in the agribusiness sector. 

“Our trade has increased from US$490 million in 2011 to US$993 million in 2019, but we think there is plenty of opportunity for us to grow this,” Mr Ghurair said. 

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce has been trying to reconnect Africa with the rest of the world. UAE is keen on establishing strong trade relations with Zimbabwe to eliminate food insecurity.

“I think Zimbabwe was one of the food baskets of Africa and could be a fantastic partner when it comes to agribusiness.”

The UAE has since reoriented its doing business policies and legislation to expand foreign participation, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses from Zimbabwe. 

DCCI chief economist Dr Ashraf Mahate said the UAE was already Zimbabwe’s second-largest trading partner after South Africa, but trade was predominantly in precious stones like gems and diamonds, which make up 70 percent of the volumes. 

“What we are looking for is how we can diversify, because we have seen how other countries around the world have developed dependency on one commodity, like oil and gas, and that means long-term trouble,” Dr Mahate told delegates. 

DCCI plans to create capacity to generate income to invest elsewhere. UAE investors would help build infrastructure in logistics, education, services, processing and manufacturing for value addition. Zimbabwe provides an opportunity for UAE investors to exploit business potential in food and agribusiness. In particular, the UAE, which is a food insecure region since only 1 percent of its land is arable, provides significant market opportunities for local exports. 

However, Zimbabwe has vast tracts of arable land, good climate, huge water resources and skilled manpower. 

Dr Ashraf said the UAE could not only provide a huge market and trade opportunity for Zimbabwe, but a gateway to global markets as well, given its status as the trade hub of the world.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said Zimbabwe and Dubai should explore and cultivate win-win opportunities for the two countries. 

“Our Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy aims to increase agricultural output to US$8,2 billion by 2025 and to grow exports to US$4,2 billion by 2025. 

“We envisage export growth for flowers, fruits, vegetables and nuts. We also anticipate accelerated exports of tobacco, tea and sugar, among many others. Additionally, we yearn for the export of value-added produce and products,” he said.