ZIMBABWE’S manufacturers enjoyed rising export demand amid an increase in productivity, a government State of Industry report has indicated.
The report suggested that manufactured export goods grew at their fastest pace in years, recording a 5,5% increase with major sectors being processed food, manufactured tobacco, textiles and packaging.
In the report, submitted to Cabinet recently, Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza revealed that exports reached US$404 million up from US$383 million.
“The increase in local manufacturing sector productivity contributed to the huge leap in total exports from US$2,52 billion in 2021 to US$3,3 billion during the same period in 2022. Of this marginal increase, manufactured exports grew from US$ 383 million to US$404 million.
“Thus representing a 5,5% increase and the major leading sectors whereby processed food, manufactured tobacco, textiles and packaging,” she said.
Nzenza said strategies were being devised to diversify both exported products and export destinations, with companies capitalising on the market access opportunities being offered under the existing bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements between Zimbabwe and other nations and trading organisations.
The report also noted that a US$24 million revolving facility established by the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ) three years ago had saved 7 000 jobs and created 2 000 more.
Until a few years ago, the IDCZ operated as an investment vehicle housing State interests in firms cutting across various economic sectors.
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But sentiment towards re-engineering its operations had been growing with industries pointing out that it had failed to keep pace with emerging trends.
Through the ministry’s strategy to slash the import bill, major steel-processing firms, developing operations in Zimbabwe since last year, invested over US$1 billion into their projects, which are at various stages of implementation.
Under a cast iron guttering and steel blueprint running between 2022 and 2026, Zimbabwe plans to develop a US$6 billion industry by revenue, employing over 50 000 workers.
This comes as Zimbabwe is looking to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states as a signatory of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA), which Nzenza believes will bring benefits to the country.
“The country joined this economic block on the background of significant potential economic benefits that Zimbabwe can accrue in terms of improved exports which are set to increase into the rest of the continent,” she said in an interview last year.
“There is no doubt that easing trade restrictions in Africa, under the AfCFTA will make it easy for Zimbabwean companies to export into the continent, thereby increasing the country’s foreign currency earnings. This will resultantly help our companies to expand their operations and supply goods to a much wider and bigger market,” she added.