Source: Govt in drive to boost export growth | The Herald December 13, 2016
Enacy Mapakame: Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has launched the Rapid Results Approach (RRA) for ease of doing export business as part of its efforts to close competitiveness gaps and halt negative export growth. According to the 2017 National Budget, the country’s export performance is expected to further decline by 6,9 percent to $3,3 billion.Last year, total imports were $6 billion against exports of $3,6 billion, resulting in an average monthly deficit of $275 million.
The 100-day RRA is expected to help enhance the country’s export earnings by tackling the key impediments to the export process, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said in a speech read on his behalf by his permanent secretary Abigail Shonhiwa.
He said the deteriorating export performance was a major cause for concern that required all stakeholders’ efforts. This, he said, would enable the country to increase its exports.
“The importance of export earnings to the economy of Zimbabwe cannot be over-emphasised, particularly under the multi-currency system that we are operating under,” said Minister Bimha.
“Zimbabwe’s export performance has largely been subdued, falling short of its potential to spur economic growth,” he said.
The country’s export performance has largely been subdued failing to stir the anticipated economic growth. A myriad of factors including supply-side, competitiveness and trade facilitation challenges, among other factors have affected the ease of doing export business.
Government has come up with initiatives to spur exports, such as the 5 percent export incentive. However, there are still some hurdles that need attention to enable the smooth flow of exports.
“Our thrust on export-led industrialisation strategy requires to be buttressed by effective export development and promotion strategies meant to consolidate and expand traditional export markets, explore and develop new markets, and diversification of the national export basket. While the export incentive is in place, we note that there are a number of regulatory, policy and trade facilitation bottlenecks that are affecting the ease of doing export business as highlighted by exporters through various fora,” said Minister Bimha.
According the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2016 manufacturing sector survey report, 77,1 percent of the respondents rated policy instability as negative or “very negative” to the economy.
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula said Government was ready to work on any recommendations that can help the country’s export performance, including amending the legislative framework.
He however called on industry not to limit themselves to Europe and Asia alone as potential export destinations, but take advantage of the regional bloc like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“Look at COMESA with a population of around 500 million, you can export to COMESA and forget about the rest of the world. If we target COMESA we could see a lot of changes,” he said.
Government adopted RRI initiative to improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe as explained by the Office of the President. In line with this a steering committee to spearhead the initiative was constituted with to help increase value added exports for the country. Zimtrade chief executive Ms Stembile Pilime said this initiative was expected to help remove barriers to exports in the country.
“Our exports are not growing and our deficit is widening, and we have asked ourselves that how do we make it easier for our manufacturers, horticulture producers and other businesses reach the desired export markets to boost the economy,” she said.
She indicated some of the challenges the RRI is expected to tackle include the time it takes for one to export goods to other countries.
According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, it costs more to export from Zimbabwe than other SADC countries. The cost to export as a percentage of freight value is 18,3 percent in Zimbabwe against South Africa’s 8,5 percent, Zambia — 13 percent and Botswana at 15 percent.