ZIMTRADE, the country’s export promotion body, is currently conducting a market survey in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to identify trade and investment opportunities for Zimbabwean products and services.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The survey, ZimTrade said, would also provide Zimbabwean companies with verified information on potential business counterparts, off-distribution channels, payment systems and customs procedures among others.
“The DRC has vast resources, with 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1 100 identified minerals and precious stones. The country has the potential to become one of the largest economies on the African continent and a driver of African growth,” it said.
According to Trade Map, in 2015, the import bill of the DRC was $4,9 billion, with only $3,7 million (0,08%) coming from Zimbabwe. The economy is anticipated to continue growing at an estimated rate of 8%, owing to increased investment and growth mainly in the extractive industries.
“This presents potential for Zimbabwe to increase its export market share,” ZimTrade said.
Currently, Zimbabwe’s export is in the negative owing to low industry productivity and lack of competitiveness.
Latest data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) indicates that Zimbabwe imported goods worth $444 million in August against exports of $203m.
The country’s major exports were minerals and a wide range of agriculture-related products such as tobacco, tea and horticulture products.
Gold exports contributed $56 million, down 36% from the previous month, followed by tobacco, which increased by 83% to $35m.
Nickel ore and concentrates, on the other hand, contributed $29m. Sugarcane exports contributed $13 million in the period under review.
Cumulatively, from January to August, the country imported goods worth $3,3 billion, while exports amounted to $1,5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1,8 billion.
Lubumbashi, the second largest city in the DRC, serves as a key commercial and national industrial centre, as well as the mining capital of the DRC.
The proximity of Lubumbashi to Zimbabwe makes it easier and cheaper for local businesses to export goods and transport them either via air or road, said ZimTrade.
The survey findings will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders through seminars that will be held in Harare and Bulawayo.