Businesses challenged to take advantage of COVID-19 opportunities

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By Xinhua

BULAWAYO: Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has called on the country’s business sector to take advantage of opportunities that are being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to spur economic growth.

He said the country’s priority was on moving the economy up the value chain and structural transformation, underpinned by the strengthening of already existing value chains and the development of new ones. He suggested the private sector join hands with the government in the development and domestication of value chains as an essential tool for the transformation of the country’s economy.

“It is important for business to view the COVID-19 pandemic from a positive standpoint as it provides an opportunity to innovate, re-think and re-invent business strategies in this challenging and indeed dynamic environment,” Chiwenga said at a business conference held Wednesday on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, a city in the southwest of Zimbabwe.

The business conference ran under the same theme as this year’s 62nd edition of the ZITF, which is “Re-think, Re-imagine, Re-invent value chains for economic development.”

Chiwenga said the theme resonates with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for the reindustrialization of the economy as the nation works toward transforming itself into a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income society by 2030.

“The development thrust and vision are in accordance with global and regional aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063,” he said, urging Zimbabwe’s businesses to take advantage of the five-day ZITF, with companies from 14 countries are attending.

“This edition of the International Business Conference and the ZITF is an opportunity for businesses and all stakeholders to engage and market their products, as we seek to reach wider markets, against the backdrop of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has secondary pass-through-effects on domestic and international prices,” Chiwenga said.

The government was pushing with policies to remove non-trade barriers in an effort to boost trade and attract foreign investment, said the vice president, noting that it now takes only two days to register a company and only 14 days to register an investment in Zimbabwe.

“Efforts are underway to reduce it down to 10 days in due course,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe had also taken the opportunity of the business conference to launch its African Continental Free Trade Area implementation strategy, which is expected to assist local businesses to take advantage of economic opportunities offered by the continental free trade area.

“This serves as an inspiration to Zimbabwean business and industry to intensify efforts toward adopting innovative ways of conducting business, prioritizing economic diversification and maximizing trade potential,” Chiwenga said.

“The intention is to realize an economic upsurge for Zimbabwe and its continental neighbors in the next few years.”