HARARE, June 28 (The Source) – Zimbabwean businesses should take advantage of the country’s trade agreements with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) to narrow a growing trade gap, an industry official has said.
Zimbabwe registered a trade deficit of nearly $2 billion last year, after exports fell seven percent, to $3.37 billion from $3.61 billion the previous year. Imports declined by 11 percent over the same period, to $5.35 billion from $6 billion in 2015.
As part of the regional bloc, Zimbabwe has access to a Free Trade Area across 15 countries with a combined GDP of $718 billion.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Sifelani Jabangwe on Wednesday told a business meeting that intra-africa trade remained low despite the existence of trade arrangements.
“As industry we have not done very well in terms of promoting trade within the COMESA market. This is a huge market we should exploit and it should not be difficult because of the trade protocols that are already in place,” he said.
In 2015, Zimbabwe imported goods worth $432,7 million from the bloc against exports of $101,4 million. Zambia is the country’s biggest trade partner in Comesa accounting for 90 percent of exports, timber and frozen fish being the top export products. Maize imports from Zambia accounted for 68 percent of Zimbabwe’s imports from the bloc in 2015.
Analysts have warned that boosting intra-African trade will remain a challenge as most African economies are reliant on raw commodities.