SA, Zim pledge to boost SMEs

HARARE - South Africa and Zimbabwe have agreed to boost development of small enterprises and co-operatives in both countries, the trade and industry department said on Wednesday.

A team responsible for co-operative development in South Africa will visit Zimbabwe by February 2013, according to an agreement signed between the two countries in Harare on Tuesday.

“(It will) study the setting up of a cooperative training academy in that country, explore areas of commodity exchanges and facilitate trade among cooperatives from both countries,” the department said in a statement.

“The group will also study a franchise that seeks to facilitate relationships between small manufacturers, suppliers and the co-operatives, especially in rural areas.”

Deputy Trade and Industry minister Elizabeth Thabethe said in a statement: “The expected beneficiaries of these visits and interaction between governments will be business people themselves. There is a lot that our countries can co-operate in for the development of our small business sector.”

The Small Enterprise Development Agency of South Africa and its Zimbabwean counterpart would meet soon to discuss areas of co-operation and the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding by year-end.

Thabethe is in the country leading delegates from about 40 South African companies taking part in the fourth Zimbabwe-South Africa Investment and Trade Initiative.

Companies present are from a wide range of sectors including infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture, mining sector and information technology.

Many of them are looking to export South African products and services or build joint venture partnerships with Zimbabwe firms.

This follows a third ITI to Zimbabwe which took place in March this year which saw export sales amounting to R22 million recorded by the South African companies.

Export orders to the total value of R107 million were expected to be finalised within a year of the event.

The South African businesspeople had an opportunity to discuss business matters, potential deals and partnerships with the 260 business-people from Zimbabwe who attended the business seminars and business-to-business meetings.

A total number of 200 trade leads were obtained. The priority sectors in Zimbabwe as per the recently-launched industrial policy and which have investment opportunities for the South African companies include manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, mining, infrastructure, energy, tourism, social services, telecommunications and energy. Zimbabwe has identified 57 infrastructure growth node points across the country.

The initiative is part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Export and Investment Promotion Strategy, focusing on targeted high growth markets with the objective of creating investment and export opportunities for South Africa companies and promoting the country as a trade and investment destination.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner with recent statistics from South African department of Trade showing trade between the two countries had grown to about $1,4 billion in the seven months to July.

According to figures released by the ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority has approved 67 projects from South African companies worthy over $682 million from January to June, 2012. - BUSINESS WRITER

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