INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza yesterday disclosed that trade between Zimbabwe and Mozambique was still insignificant despite the two countries enjoying cordial bilateral relations.
The two neighbours have bilateral trade agreements and are both members of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Trade Protocol.
These trade agreements are meant to support and encourage trade among Sadc countries to reduce customs duties and other barriers to trade on products and services.
The focus of the trade agreement between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which has been in place since coming into force in 2005, is to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers and to co-operate in customs and trade promotion.
But these agreements have not stimulated trade between the two neighbouring States.
“Since our two countries established trade relations currently facilitated by the Zimbabwe-Mozambique bilateral trade agreement, which came into force on 14 January 2005, we note that trade is still low and is not commensurate with the goodwill that exists between our two countries,” Nzenza said during the Zimbabwe-Mozambique business forum in Harare.
“I, therefore, urge our respective private sector players from both Zimbabwe and Mozambique to take advantage of the vast opportunities that exist within the agriculture, mining and energy sectors, among others.
“This, however, calls for more aggression, to leave no stone unturned, in order to unlock the full potential in business co-operation between our two countries.”
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Several Zimbabwean companies, through the ZimTrade export promotion activities, have made inroads into Mozambican provinces like Tete, Chimoi and Manica over the years, riding on the good relations between the two countries.
Nzenza said Mozambique remained Zimbabwe’s strategic partner in view of its sea ports that give access to the broader regional and continental as well as international markets.
However, she said the ongoing developments to establish a one-stop-border-post at the Nyamapanda/Forbes Border should be expedited.
“Zimbabwe and Mozambique are both State parties to the Sadc Free Trade Agreement, which governs trade relations between our two countries. It is also quite pleasing to note that both Zimbabwe and Mozambique are State parties to the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“It is, therefore, crucial that we leverage on the free trade agreements to increase mutually beneficial trade flows. To achieve this goal, we need deeper and more meaningful dialogue between our respective private sectors.”
According to Nzenza, infrastructure remains pivotal as it provides an opportunity for business, and is an important enabler for economic growth.
The minister revealed that there is an array of investment opportunities in infrastructure development in Zimbabwe which includes construction of roads, bridges, houses and shopping malls, among others.