Zim companies urged to explore Namibian market

HARARE - Zimbabwean companies have been urged to increase their regional footprint by exploiting the potential vast business opportunities
offered by Namibia.

Zimtrade chief executive Sithembile Pilime yesterday told delegates at the presentation of the Namibia Market Survey in the capital that of the total trade recorded last year, Zimbabwe had exported goods worth $8,8 million.

“As you can see from these trade figures, Zimbabwe can do more in terms of business with Namibia. According to TradeMap, Zimbabwe exported goods worth only $8,9 million to Namibia in 2014 while imports from that country were $17,8 million in the same period.

“Whilst the level of trade between our two countries is low and, therefore, of concern, it can also be seen as an opportunity for growth,” she said.

Trade between the two southern African countries stood at $26,7 million at the end of last year.

The survey — conducted in September this year — identified opportunities for local products and services in sectors such as building and construction, pharmaceuticals, leather and leather related products and human capital skills, among others.

Currently, Zimbabwe’s exports to Namibia comprises pharmaceutical products, iron and steel products, agricultural inputs, leather products, among others.

The survey also showed that most of Namibia’s pharmacies were presently being manned by Zimbabwean professionals.

“With the trade deficit Zimbabwe currently has, this is an opportunity for the country to narrow the gap between its imports and exports, as the trade relations between the two countries is already well-established,” Pilime said.

According to TradeMap, Namibia’s import bill in 2014 was $7,4 billion with Zimbabwe supplying $17,7 million.

In 2014, Namibia was the tenth largest export destination for Zimbabwean products.

Trade between Zimbabwe and Namibia is governed by the Sadc Trade Protocol and the Zimbabwe-Namibia Preferential Trade Agreement, which offer preferential treatment to qualifying products into each other’s market.

Companies are encouraged to utilise the Preferential Trade arrangements to boost their market share in Namibia.

The two countries enjoy cordial political and business relations and are both members of the Sadc Trade Protocol.

In addition, the two countries have a Bilateral Trade Agreement, which came into force in August 1992.

Under this agreement, goods that are wholly grown, produced or manufactured in Zimbabwe may be imported into Namibia (and vice-versa) free of customs duty.

Zimbabwe’s exports declined by 27, 6 percent in March to $188,7 million as the southern African country’s trade deficit continues to widen.

According Zimbabwe’s statistical agency — ZimStats — the decline was attributed to poor tobacco sales.

Zimbabwe’s balance of trade has remained in negative territory in the last few years fuelled by economic decline that has hit on productivity while promoting imports.

In 2014, the country recorded a trade deficit of $3,3 billion with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe citing in part the retreat in international commodity prices and lack of competitiveness.

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