By Bulawayo Correspondent
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday blamed the country’s low exports to the effects of climate change and sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and European Union soon after the turn of the century.
Zimbabwe’s international trade performance reached its peak back in 1992 but since then, the country’s exports has plummeted to an all-time low.
Addressing delegates at the Zim Trade Annual Exporters conference in Bulawayo on Thursday, Mnangagwa said in the wake of dwindling exports, there was urgent need for both the public and private sectors to harmonise efforts to reverse the country’s waning fortunes.
“There is an urgent need for both the private and public sectors to synergise efforts and collectively take appropriate steps to boost our exports which is the most sustainable way to stabilise and grow our economy,” said the President.
Mnangagwa said the effects of climate change and sanctions have scuttled government’s efforts to build production capacity and generate value-added exports.
He added, “The effects of the on-going climate change, coupled with the continued illegal sanctions hamper market access, access to credit finance and processing of international payments, innovative collaborative strategies and efforts to build production capacity and generate value added exports.”
Instead of over-reliance on the exportation of primary commodities, Mnangagwa said, there was also need for increased diversified exports of value-added goods and services.
The President said considering that the country’s economy is agro-based, farmers should also thrive to export their produce.
“In view of the forthcoming summer agricultural season, it is important that farmers make bold decisions to produce for our national food security and nutrition as well as for export.
“I urge local producers at every level to aim to have a minimum component of their total output going towards export, for example through the ratio of 80% for local markets and 20% for export markets,” he said.
Mnangagwa said if the country‘s export ambitions were to be fully realised, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) should also be involved in the drive.
“The culture of producing for exports needs to be inculcated amongst all producers and in particular SMEs. Women and youth owned businesses must be facilitated so that they too innovate and effectively participate in our on-going export drive,” he said.
In line with devolution, the President said provinces must identify and take responsibility for economic activities in their regions to ensure that everyone participated in foreign currency generation.
“Provinces are therefore encouraged to develop export development strategies and plans agreed with the national export strategy policy and the Zimbabwe National Trade Policy, albeit based on their respective resource endowments.”
The theme of this year’s conference was held under the theme “Re-think Reform and Export”.