ZIMBABWE’S trade facilitation body, ZimTrade has called on local companies to consider growing exports to Namibia’s pharmaceuticals, construction and leather products sectors to improve the country’s trade position.
Zimtrade Chief Executive Sithembile Pilime on Thursday told delegates attending the launch the Namibia market survey findings on Thursday that while Zimbabwe has a negative trade imbalance with its Southern African peer, opportunities are abound to grow exports.
Official figures show that Zimbabwe’s exports to Namibia stood at US$8,9 million against imports of US$ 17,8 million.
“It’s very important that we push for that market. We own less than 1% of the market share .Namibia has vast opportunities in construction, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and leather product,” she said.
Namibia imports 65% of its products from South Africa with 8% coming from Botswana.
Trade between Namibia and South Africa has been largely buoyed by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) -a customs union among Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
Malvern Rusike, Director of Africa Corporate Advisors a consultant engaged by the country’s trade facilitation body to conduct the survey said while Namibia has a strong product demand for Zimbabwe’s products they are setbacks affecting trade between the two countries such as obsolete technology, antiquated machinery, lack of competitiveness and customs issue.
According Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2015 survey the manufacturing capacity utilisation was pegged at 34,3% down from 36,5% last year.
In Namibia the manufacturing sector contributes about 15% to the Gross Domestic Product with its light industry linked to agro processing.
“If we have the manufacturing capacity which has the ability to supply to that market, let’s do so,” Rusike said.
He said Zimbabwe can utilise bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between itself and Namibia.
The two countries signed preferential trade agreement.
Rusike said Zimbabwe needs to review trade policies and put incentives to promote exporters.
Though Namibia is lowly populated with an estimated population of two million its spending power is high its southern region taps into the Angolan market.
Namibia is indexed at 101 out of 189 under the World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings where as Zimbabwe is ranked 155.-Fidelity Mhlanga