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Curtain comes down on eventful ZITF

by Staff reporter
30 Apr 2023 at 08:57hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) is an annual event that brings together business leaders, innovators, policymakers, and investors from across the globe together.

This year's trade showcase held under the theme: "Continuous innovation, global competitiveness," came to an end yesterday.

Over 20 countries participated, an increase from 13 registered last year.

These include Angola, Belarus, Botswana, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA) and Zambia.

The UK, European Union (EU) and USA made a return after an extended absence.

The EU was the biggest exhibitor, taking up 33 square metres of exhibition space, according to ZITF Company chairman, Busisa Moyo.

The second largest exhibitor was Econet Zimbabwe.

The fair provided a platform for business leaders to showcase their products and services, network, and explore new business opportunities.

It also provided a unique opportunity for policymakers to engage business leaders and investors, understand their needs, and create an enabling environment for economic growth.

The programme was jam-packed with a vast range of events, from harnessing the power of technology to creating a future-fit labour force, to collaborative innovation as the bedrock of intra-Africa and international trade.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube took advantage of a business conference held during the ZITF to warn companies against engaging in parallel market activities.

He threatened to hike Zimbabwe's policy rates beyond 200% if companies continue to dabble in such activities, which have been blamed for affecting economic growth.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) earned the tag of the ‘world's most aggressive' central bank, after authorities hiked the policy rate to 200%.

The rate was reduced to 150%, before a further slash to the current140%.

But firms say at those levels, accessing loans from banks becomes extremely expensive.

While officially opening the Connect Africa Symposium, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga said African countries should not be used as proxies in foreign conflicts by any country.

Instead, the continent should preserve her interests, particularly her resources, he said.

"Gone are the days when foreign powers come to our meetings and try to override our own agendas. No," Chiwenga said.

"The agenda must be written by Africans for Africans.

"We see repeated attempts of hectoring Africa into answering to issues that are peripheral to its interests.

"That must end.

"We also see attempts by bigger powers to fight over our resources which they want to control and to detect partnerships for us. We know our interests.

"We do not need to be lectured through hypocrisy."

He added: We must put our foot down as a continent, look to ourselves and assess partnerships for how well they serve us now and in future.

"That is the Africa we want and seek to build."

King Mswati III of the Royal Kingdom of Eswatini, who officially opened the fair on Friday, called for greater trade and investment cooperation between his country and Zimbabwe, stressing that the two countries' existing trade and investment remain negligible.

His call for greater trade and investment cooperation between his country and Zimbabwe is a reminder of the potential that lies in fostering stronger relationships between nations.

Despite the existing trade and investment being negligible, there is an opportunity for growth and development through mutual partnerships, he stressed.

"I further note that Eswatini imports over US$2 billion worth of goods per annum (from Zimbabwe) while Zimbabwe imports over US$5,6 billion worth of goods per annum from Eswatini," he said.

"However, trade and investment between the two countries remains insignificant compared to our respective  economic connectivities with the rest of the world.

"I, therefore, would like to call for closer trade and investment collaboration between Eswatini and Zimbabwe."

To address the challenges associated with the low levels of intra Africa trade, Mswati said African countries must make a conscious effort to do business with each other.

"This will go a long way in creating jobs for our economies and eradicate poverty in Africa," he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa told journalists after touring the stands at ZITF that he was excited about the presence of  European nations, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

"So this engagement and re-engagement policy is bearing fruits. Perhaps, they heard that the Majesty is coming. That's why they're here," he said.

Industry minister Sekai Nzenza said ZITF had seen an increase in international participation of up to 30% compared to last year.

In terms of local participation, 65% of the confirmed exhibitors were from Harare while Bulawayo-based companies account for 21%.

Representation from other cities around the country is 14%.

There are 533 exhibitors, taking up 46 631 square metres of the exhibition space, which converts to 97% of available exhibition space.

This compares favourably to last year's closing total space occupied which was 45 786 square metres.

 To cater for the increased demand, organisers converted previously unused areas to exhibition sites.

 These include the Gate 7 car park as well as sections of selected boulevards.

As the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, Chiwenga urged businesses and countries to adapt and innovate in order to stay competitive.

"We must be at the forefront of innovation and driving change, if we are to succeed in achieving our aspirations of an empowered and prosperous middle-income economy by 2030," he said.

Source - The Standard