Supermarkets propose fresh export strategy

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) says Zimbabwe must make efforts to process its top 10 export products in order to derive maximum benefits from its resources, while creating employment.

CZR, the biggest lobby for supermarkets, wholesalers and several related business entities, warned last week that by ignoring calls to ship more manufactured products into the international markets, the southern African country was exploiting its finite resources for the benefit of other economies.

“It is our strong view that the country’s top 10 exports should be value added products, as opposed to the current scenario where all the top five exports are raw materials, which we do not fully benefit from their export as they are simply commodities that have not been value added,” CZR said in a paper submitted to government.

“Given how about 60% of the country’s exports are concentrated to just two countries, South Africa and United Arab Emirates, it is the confederation’s view that more efforts should be put on diversifying exports to reduce risks of external shocks, such as the recent disturbances and looting which were experienced in South Africa in July 2021,” the CZR noted.

Zimbabwe’s major exports include gold, platinum, chrome, diamonds, tobacco and other agricultural products and tourism related services.

Last month, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe gave a positive outlook for exports, but it was also concerned that value addition has been lagging behind.

The lobby spoke as official data showed Zimbabwe’s trade deficit widened to US$416 billion during the five months to May, from US$340 million a year earlier.

Exports surged by 31% to US$202 billion during the same period, compared to US$1,53 billion at the same time in 2020, while imports also increased.

Presenting his mid-term budget and economic review recently, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the country’s external sector position would remain strong to support balance of payments requirements and stabilise the exchange rate.

He said the current account balance for 2021 is projected to remain in a surplus position, albeit at a moderated level.

Merchandise exports are projected to increase by 4,2%, from US$4,9 billion in 2020 to US$5, 1 billion this year.

Mineral exports are expected to maintain strong growth on account of the continued strong performances in Platinum Group of Metals and recovery in chrome and high carbon ferrochrome exports.

Gold exports are forecast to remain high in 2021, on account of the recently introduced gold delivery incentives.

“Agricultural exports, led by tobacco, are expected to positively respond to the favourable climatic conditions during the 2020-2021 agricultural season. Manufactured exports are similarly expected to rebound, spurred by the anticipated recovery in production,” Ncube said.