HARARE, June 25 (The Source) – Zambia says local companies could boost bilateral trade by investing in its insurance sector with its resources driven economy maintaining strong economic growth rates, Zambia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Ndiyoi Mutiti said on Thursday.
Zambia is Zimbabwe’s distant fourth largest export destination after South Africa, Mozambique and Belgium, accounting for four percent of exports, according to official figures.
Zimbabwe, once a net exporter to Zambia has a trade deficit with its northern neighbour as exports stood at $102 million in 2014 compared to imports of $179 million.
“In the financial services sector, one of the fastest growing areas is insurance because people are bringing in a lot of investment, so insurance is beginning to peak and I know that there are few Zimbabwean insurance companies that are trying to find a niche in the Zambian market,” Mutiti said at the launch of the Zimtrade Zambia market research study.
“They have not yet established themselves. In that sector, do some research, you might find that there is an area for you there because of the investment people are pouring into the country (Zambia).”
Ambassador Mutiti said Zimbabwe can improve trade and investment relations by improving on its rankings on the ease of doing business saying Zambia had vigorously pushed for reforms to become more competitive.
The World Bank has ranked the country 171 out of 189 countries on its 2014 ease of doing business index, a situation attributed to negative perceptions of Zimbabwe’s policies such as its land redistribution drive as well as the current crusade to localize control of all foreign-owned enterprises. Policy inconsistencies have also been cited as reasons behind low FDI inflows into the country.
“We were ranked a couple of years ago as one of the countries where it is very difficult to do business and our Zambia Development Agency which is the equivalent of Zimtrade, working together with the ministry of commerce, trade and industry began to address some of the challenges that the people were complaining about and that is one direction you could also go,” she said.
“I am not saying Zambia has cleared all the barriers but I’m saying that is why we are growing and there are lot of birth pains when you embark on this route but there has to be a determination and decision to tackle them when they arise. There has to be a will and there has to be a vision,”Mutiti said.
She appealed to government to relax trade barriers that inhibit Zambian firms from penetrating the local n market.
“There are Zambian companies that are having challenges of getting into the Zimbabwean market, do not ignore that because if you want to get into the Zambian market, you will because we have an open door policy in Zambia but don’t make life difficult for the Zambian companies that want to come here.”