Zimbabwe hindered by unattractive policies

via Zimbabwe hindered by unattractive policies March 7, 2014 by Taurai Mangudhla

ZIMBABWE is hindered by unattractive investment laws and lack of policy consistency, trade experts say.

The country needs transparent and attractive policies to avoid rent seeking behaviour in industry, World Bank African region trade practice leader Paul Brenton said.

“The country should focus on putting right incentives in terms of taxes and generally reduce trade costs,” Brenton said at a World Bank Zimbabwe seminar on trade and competitiveness on Wednesday.

International growth centre country director Richard Newfarmer said while Zimbabwe’s trade policy objectives were centred on transforming the country from a primary products exporter into an exporter of processed products, policies on the ground are at tangent with the objective.

“The problem is policies are not aligned to these objectives,” Newfarmer said.

He said the country has abundant natural and human resources to unleash new sources of growth, but the policy environment in the near term will determine whether or not these outcomes can be realised.

Newfarmer said Zimbabwe has unhealthy export trends as a result of its flawed policy environment.

He said the country currently remains dependent on a few commodity exports and is labour intensive, exposing the economy to trade shocks and slow job creation.

He said being over reliant on mining means the economy will suffer in case of a plunge in international metal prices.

“Zimbabwe is now firing on only one cylinder of the export engine. Mining is the principal driver of the economy, but there is potential for the other three that is agriculture, services and manufacturing,” said Newfarmer.

He said Zimbabwe’s exports were less diverse compared to other regional countries.

“Better policies can reverse these export trends and transform the economy,” he said.

A World Bank survey indicated it was 80% more profitable to trade domestically than to export from Zimbabwe.

Newfarmer also said Zimbabwe has been unable to grow tourist arrivals and earnings due to a poor policy in the service industry.

He said policies in the services sector were highly restrictive to new players.

“Zimbabwe’s tourism assets are ranked number 22 in the world but it is not doing well. The service industry has real potential in landlocked countries but the question is how to unlock this potential,” he said.

The cost of internet also remains high, at US$1000 per month for 3mbs compared to US$200 per month for 180mbs Newfarmer said.

To grow trade, the county should review ownership restrictions and individual policies that discourage investment. He said government should also take action to reduce institutional rigidities that drive up the costs of trade.

National statistics show that Zimbabwe’s trade deficit continues to widen as industry suffers from a lack of capital after a decade of economic stagnation and introduction of a multiple currency regime in 2009.

Exports fell 10% to US$3,51 billion in 2013 from US$3,88 billion in 2012, while imports increased by 3% to US$7,7 billion from US$7,48 billion. Zimbabwe
imported goods worth US$3,66 billion from South Africa, 47% of total imports last year. Exports to South Africa totalled US$2,6 billion.

Imports from China amounted to US$438,8 million, while exports to that country stood at US$30,9 million.


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 9 years ago

    The Zanu oligoth has no intention to revive our economy. 14 years of this farce and malaise by a sick and deranged party has shown everyone that Zanu and not the great people of Zimbabwe are holding back on development. The International community would be better advised to deal on an equal footing with those Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to truly understand our problems. Only then and maybe Zanu will realise not everything goes their way.

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    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    Unattractive policies, unattractive politics. It goes on and on and on. and the country goes down and down and down.
    Zimbabwe needs new leadership in every sector; new thinking in every facet of our lives. There is absolutely nothing that we can be complacent about. Change.

  • comment-avatar

    We mean ungodly, unjust and sinful policies! No repentance! No restoration!

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 9 years ago

    For all ZANU’s failings it does in some way represent a substantial body of Zimbabwean opinion. For progressive policies to be put in place many Zimbabweans need to get real.

  • comment-avatar
    gizara 9 years ago

    No, we have unattractive leadership which cannot abide by the policies they make