THE 46th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicked off on a low note in Bulawayo this week with acres of space not filled as exhibitors stayed at home during the first two d
ays of the trade expo.
At least 604 local and international exhibitors confirmed participation at the trade showcase but many had not yet displayed any goods by the end of the first two business days.
ZITF general manager, Daniel Chigaru, however said the exhibitors had expressed hope to arrive before the trade fair ends tomorrow.
“The first few days have been satisfactory even though some exhibitors from out of Bulawayo have not turned up and they have not given reasons for not turning up,” Chigaru said. “We hope they will be here before the show ends.”
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza will officially open the five-day trade showcase today.
A total of 42 foreign companies are taking part at the trade exhibition while 562 local exhibitors are participating.
The majority of local exhibitors are mainly small to medium enterprises (SMEs) while the foreign exhibitors are mainly Chinese and from other Far East countries.
A travel and tourism exhibition, A’Sambeni, which runs concurrently with the ZITF, also kicked off on a very low note with a handful of exhibitors showcasing their products.
An exhibitor with a tourism organisation said the low turnout was due to the fact that most tour operators were preparing to attend a more lucrative regional tourism showcase in South Africa at the beginning of May.
“In terms of business, attending the South African exhibition has more returns that attending A’Sambeni where the returns are far much lower,” the tour operator said.
This year also saw the return of livestock at the trade fair after a long absence due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and a boycott last year by white commercial farmers.
However the number of livestock on display at the trade fair is quite low with dairy and beef cattle dominating the livestock section.
A major international business conference organised by the ZITF and sponsored by the corporate world was held over two days and was attended by over 200 business people.
The business conference held under the theme “Resource Mobilisation for Investment and Trade” was addressed by four foreign speakers.
The four foreign speakers are Ruel Khoza, the director of Eskom, Geoff Rothschild, the director of the JSE Securities Exchange, Ken Small, a regional consultant on tourism and spatial development from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and former Barclays Bank South Africa managing director, Isaac Takawira.
Other local speakers who addressed the conference include Anthony Mandiwanzira, Nicholas Kitikiti, Jonathan Kadzura, Davison Mugabe, Shingi Munyeza and Sydney Gata among others.
Meanwhile the ZITF has made a provision to supply exhibitors with fuel as the country is experiencing a crippling shortage of the commodity.
Chigaru said fuel was being provided to exhibitors through the use of coupons at designated service stations.