THE 46th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) ended on a low note last Saturday with only two international, non-African exhibitors, China and Austria, taking part. <
According to a Bulawayo economist, Oscar Chiwira, the nation has to lure more international exhibitors to the country’s premier trade fair to forge trading partnerships with local companies.
In an interview, Chiwira said ZITF had become an “international exhibition” that is mainly made up of local companies, a phenomenon he said did not help the country develop economically.
“There were very few international exhibitors at the fair and merely having local exhibitors does not help the country in terms of trading partners.
“We need the international community to check on our progress,” Chiwira said.
He said the tourism sector also missed a chance during the fair to revive the ailing industry as few corporate visitors came to Bulawayo due to the acute fuel shortages facing the country.
“The fair was affected by the fuel shortage in the city,” he said.“Corporate visitors might have been interested in visiting the tourist areas but were hampered by the fuel crisis. Their visit there was going to be significant in that this might have led to the forging of partnerships within the tourism sector.”
However, Jonathan Kadzura, a Harare-based economist, said the fair was a big success owing to the fact that most exhibitors were locals.
“The past ZITF had a mixture of local and international exhibitors, but this year we had most exhibitors being the locals and this shows some strength that this country can mount its own fair.
“This year’s fair also ushered in a new era that ZITF should actually focus on our economy because it is for Zimbabwe to showcase Zimbabwe,” said Kadzura.
He also added that there was a need to support local exhibitors as they contribute to the success of the fair.
“Trends should be encouraged and support given to those who organised the fair so that space is given to more local exhibitors.”
ZITF manager Daniel Chigaru also expressed satisfaction with this year’s fair, which he described as being worth every cent invested in it.
“We are satisfied with the level of organisation of ZITF 2005 both in terms of logistics and attendance even though we do not have the actual figures yet.
“We received cooperation from all the people who were involved, particularly for the official opening; from government to the private sector.
We all engaged each other in putting up what I believe was a good fair.”
“This year’s was quite a success as it helped us forge relationships together as locals so as to improve our economy,” said one local exhibitor at the fair.
ZITF 2006 will be from April 25 to 29.