Tap into Comesa, Zim urged

Source: Tap into Comesa, Zim urged – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 28, 2017

Trade between the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has reached $15 billion, a mere 2,2% of the regional bloc’s total GDP of over $718 billion.


Speaking at a workshop on trade protocols, Comesa regional office representative Tasara Muzorori said there was need to increase production in order to boost trade in the region.

“There is a very big market for Zimbabwean products. Member States like Egypt, Zambia, Kenya and Mauritius are big markets and spenders.

“To increase trade we need to have products. So the Comesa countries should really increase production.”

Muzorori said Comesa country ministers have adopted the regional industrialisation policy which encourages value-addition to the abundant raw materials and ultimately increase exports.

He said, currently, Zimbabwe appears not to be taking full advantage of the lucrative markets within the regional bloc, although Zimtrade was trying its best to assist local companies.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) trade development and investment chairperson Henry Nemaire also urged industry to take advantage of existing markets to improve Comesa intra-trade.

“So we have room of more than 97% that we have not touched. We keep going to other places, but we should be really eating into Comesa because there are zero tariffs,” Nemaire said.

Ministry of Industry and Commerce director for international trade, Beatrice Mtetwa said low capacity utilisation and liquidity challenges were affecting industrial output and competitiveness.

She said Zimbabwe was also participating in the African Union’s project to fast-track the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which is aimed at Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT).

According to the COMSTAT database, Zimbabwe’s total exports stood at $3,4 billion in 2010 and rose to a peak of $4 billion in 2013 and declined again to $3,4 billion in 2015.

On the other hand, the imports were $4,7 billion in 2010 and rose to a peak of $8,5 billion in 2011 before declining to $6 billion in 2015.

In the period under review, Zimbabwe’s exports to Comesa were sluggish, registering $267 million in 2010 and remarkably declined to $101 million in 2015.

Zimbabwe’s imports from Comesa were $271 million in 2010 and peaked at $641 million in 2012 before declining to $436 million in 2015.