HARARE, April 29 (The Source) – The elimination of tariffs within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has failed to spur intra-regional trade economic development, President Robert Mugabe said on Wednesday, adding the bloc needs a long-term industrialization strategy anchored on value addition of unprocessed goods to reduce poverty.
Officially opening an extraordinary SADC summit on industrialisation, Mugabe said despite being endowed with vast natural resources about 70 percent of the population in the region is living under the poverty datum line, primarily due to its failure to add value to its exports.
Official figures show that import figures between SADC and Asia Pacific region account for 45 percent, while with the European Union, it stands at 27 percent. Imports from within the region are at 10 percent, with raw materials and semi-processed goods accounting for the bulk of exchange.
“It is, therefore, evident that our focus on reducing and eliminating tariffs has not brought about the intended socio-economic development and well-being of our people,” said Mugabe who also doubles as SADC and African Union Chairperson.
“There is therefore, need for collective action on our part to put in place effective strategies to boost the productive capacity of our industries. Enhanced productive capacities will enable our industry to reap the benefits from the market opportunities created by trade liberalization.”
Southern African countries are looking to increase foreign direct investment under a long-term strategy anchored on value addition and beneficiation of natural resources set to be adopted by its leaders on Wednesday.
Mugabe said southern Africa, with its diversified natural resource base, had a solid platform to industrialise.
“Our region is endowed with abundant and diverse natural resources,” Mugabe said.
“Our mineral sector alone, contributes to world production; about 6 percent of coal, 7 percent of nickel, 8 percent of copper, 13 percent of uranium, 15 percent of manganese, 18 percent of cobalt, 21 percent of zinc, 26 percent of gold, 41 percent of chromite, 55 percent of diamonds and 72 percent of the platinum group of metals.”