ZIMTRADE is rolling out the Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Support Project (TAZEPA) aimed at enhancing the country’s integration into the regional and international trading system, it has been established.
The project seeks to reform and streamline policy, as well as regulatory and institutional frameworks.
It also seeks to incentivise production and trade in selected value chains, ensure reduced trading costs and expedited movement, as well as improve the competitiveness and export capacity of small and medium enterprises in selected value chains.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with players in the export industry in Mutare on Monday, the managing consultant for Decisive Aggregates, Mr Isaac Ndungu said the TAZEPA project gives Zimbabwe and other regional countries access to the European market.
Decisive Aggregates was engaged by ZimTrade to roll out the project.
“The whole idea of today’s workshop is to engage with key stakeholders. We want to zero down on the most opportune products. Our main goal is to be able to access the European market. Once we have that capacity, we will also use the same competency to sell to the regional markets. We are also talking about the African Continental Free Trade Area which opens up the entire continent to our exporters,” said Mr Ndungu.
He added: “We are also trying to find out what is ready for the European export market. We are trying to figure out what is constraining exports, why are some Zimbabwean exports not on European shelves and other African countries?
“What concerns me most is that it looks like some Zimbabweans are not interested in exporting as exporting has been made difficult. Through exorbitant levies and taxes, we are encouraging imports at the expense of exports.
“High production costs and limited knowledge of the European market are some of the issues affecting exports,” said Mr Ndungu.
He said the TAPEZA project will proffer solutions on how to improve export markets through an export competitiveness strategy plan.
Meanwhile, ZimTrade has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences to seal their mutual interest in the fields of research, training and innovation to enhance national development.
ZimTrade’s chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru pledged to support MSUAS in the development of academic programmes and short courses that will spur innovation.
He also pledged that his organisation will help in establishing linkages of export markets for the university.
Mr Majuru said in the 1990s, Zimbabwe was the leading horticulture exporter, followed by Kenya.
Currently, Kenya has became the biggest exporter.
He said Zimbabwe has the potential to surpass Kenya if farmers work together to improve horticulture exports.
“MSUAS has a farm in Headlands and they want to venture into horticulture. We have a number of buyers in the Middle East and Europe who are interested in what we grow. We want to work from the market, coming back to the farmers. We want to assist the university to venture into the export business.
“His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, is quite clear on this vision. The idea is to support our innovation hubs. We need to commercialise the hubs,” said Mr Majuru.
He added: “We will be working with the university, making sure that when the students write their thesis, they will be addressing society’s needs.”
MSUAS Vice Chancellor, Professor Albert Chawanda expressed gratitude over the MOU, saying it will facilitate research and innovation in the exportation of products.
“This MOU is key as it will enable and facilitate our relationship with ZimTrade in terms of research and innovation. We will be working with them to assist in researching the areas of exporting challenges.
“MSUAS is into farming. ZimTrade will be facilitating and assisting in our exports of horticulture products because next year our main focus at our industrial park will be horticulture.
“We are also into honey production. ZimTrade will assist us with marketing our services outside the country,” said Professor Chawanda. – Manica Post