Beitbridge set for economic zone status

BEITBRIDGE - Beitbridge town has been selected as an economic zone, in a move likely to boost exports and stimulate production, deputy minister of Investment and Economic Planning Samuel Undenge says.

Undenge told the visiting South African trade delegation at the fourth Investment and Trade Initiative in Bulawayo that the decision will shift focus from the concept of export processing zones which was confined to exports alone and neglect stimulating production.

He said while the world was focusing attention on building trading blocks, Zimbabwe was taking the same initiative to improve exports.

“We are planning on creating an economic zone in Beitbridge. Previously, they were called export processing zones, but this time we are focusing on industry’s capacity to produce more.

“We chose Beitbridge because of its proximity to the Indian Ocean and the South African boarder which is a hive of economic activity,”Undenge said.

Beitbridge is the country’s busiest borders, with a reported 40 percent of exports sold into South Africa passing through it, into Zimbabwe, whilst 60 percent accounts for imports.

Undenge said Zimbabwe was adopting a concept that other parts of the world like the European Union trade block and China have successfully implemented to, stimulate production and drive exports.

“We will end up having a corridor of economic zones in Beitbridge, Bulawayo, Mussina and Johannesburg.
 
“The world has gone towards creating a trading block which appreciates the need for countries to work together at micro and macro levels,” he said.

The deputy minister said companies which invest will enjoy benefits related to reduced duty and taxes.
He said this was important as economies are moving towards economic integration.

South Africa is keen to engage in trade with Zimbabwe, its biggest trading partner in Southern Africa.

According to South Africa deputy minister of trade and industry Elizabeth Tabethe, trade between the two countries is encouraging and called on the country to increase its exports.

“Two-way trade between the two countries stood at R19,2 billion in 2011 as compared to R16,5 billion in 2010 and R14,8 billion in 2009. This demonstrates a steady growth in two-way trade between the two countries.

“It should be noted, though, that imports from Zimbabwe increased by more than 100 percent from 2010 to 2011,”Tabethe said.

The delegation led by Tabethe was in Bulawayo to create business synergies with local investors and businesses as part of regional integration cemented by the signing of Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (Bippa). - Nyasha Chingono

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