THE just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) has sent mixed feelings in the business community with some being optimistic that the showcase will be used as a stepping stone for the revival of the economy and some believing that there was more to be done in order to regain investor confidence.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Obert Sibanda said the trade exhibition went on well considering that companies were only beginning to start major industrial operations which had been restrained due to lack of foreign currency after dollarisation.
â€œGenerally considering the fact that we were not even sure that the showcase was going to occur due to the economic situation, I would say it went on well,â€ Sibanda said.
â€œA lot of people did not expect it to be a success because companies were ill prepared due to finances but we managed to have a number of local companies exhibiting.â€
However, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Kumbirai Katsande said describing the event as a success will give the impression that everything in the business community is now back to normal when challenges are still plaguing businesses.
â€œZITF under normal circumstances is supposed to be a showcase of where the economy is at and its potential to grow,â€ said Katsande. â€œBut in any case it did manage to show the world that the Zimbabwean business community is not dead and out.â€
Katsande said the business community should not sit back and bask in the glory of the success of ZITF as an event because there is more work to be done.
â€œWe are currently not at our best because some of our members from CZI did not even attend due to various challenges that include part producing or no production at all.â€
John Robertson, an independent economic analyst, said it is much too soon to describe ZITF as a success and key to economic revival.
â€œWe donâ€™t look as sound and we are still bankrupt, it might have taken courage to host the showcase but what the country needs is money to keep such an area worthy and ensure that international exhibitors who attended come next year,â€ said Robertson.
â€œAs a country, we have not made the progress that we should have made since the inclusive government came into place and that sends out bad messages to the international business community which may want to exhibit and invest in the country.â€
The showcase which ended on May 2 and ran under the theme â€œGolden Opportunity for Dynamic Take-offâ€ saw over 400 local, regional and international exhibitors converging in the country to give Zimbabwe its first chance to showcase its trade and investment potential since the formation of the inclusive Government in February.
The ZNCC boss said the success of the showcase was likely to assist in changing the image and perception that the international community has on Zimbabwe and increase trade with other companies.
â€œAs business, we had meetings with countries like South Africa, Zambia and Botswana, they had groups who were on a fact finding mission doing their own assessment of the environment,â€ said Sibanda.
â€œThese countries said they were optimistic and they have since made arrangements to come back and engage the local business community to partner in trade.â€
A Kingdom report has also predicted unmistakable signs of recovery noting that most economic indicators which previously struggled to find a bottom have somewhat stabilised.
â€œInflation is on the retreat, macro-economic conditions are improving and dollarisation has reduced price distortions. Prices of goods are coming down and products are returning to supermarket shelves,â€ the report said.
BY JESILYN DENDERE