‘Zim must prioritise industrialisation’

Industry and Commerce ministry deputy director investment promotion and export development Netai Magade

ZIMBABWE needs to give priority to industrialisation and diversifying its productive capacities to mitigate the risk of becoming dependent on imported commodities, a government official has said.

Speaking at the Competition and Tariff Commission annual trade tariff conference in Harare last week, investment promotion and export development deputy-director at the Industry and Commerce ministry Netai Magade said local production was key to economic growth.

Magade said the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presented the most immediate and significant opportunities for expanding the country’s export markets.

“It is crucial for the local industry to position itself to take full advantage of these opportunities here presented such as accessing duty-free exports in a market of about 1,3 billion people,” she said.

“This will not only bring in the much needed foreign currency, but also create employment opportunities for our citizens. To effectively participate in these trading blocs, Zimbabwe must, I repeat, must prioritise industrialisation and the diversification of its production capabilities.

“Without local production, we run the risk of becoming reliant on imported goods, which undermines our economic growth.”

Magade said the Zimbabwe national industrial policy played a vital role in guiding the industrialisation agenda with a focus on value addition and beneficiation.

She said the country had witnessed a 5,5% growth in manufactured export goods, reaching US$404 million in 2022.

These positive developments are encouraging considering the challenges faced by domestic industry, Magade said.

She said trade agreements and industrialisation were closely interconnected.

“Trade agreement open up the market for our domestic industries, leading to increased production, both local and foreign investment and job creation.

“In addition, preferential rates of duty applied under this agreement can make our domestic industry more competitive by importing cheaper inputs, thus boosting productivity.

“Furthermore, the trade agreement attracts foreign direct investment, bringing with them new capital, technology, and skills that support an unpitched industrialisation.”

While participating in trade agreements, Magade said it was  important for Zimbabwe to remain vigilant against unspared trade practices such as dumping and subsidised goods from other countries, as well as surges in imports that may harm local industry.

She said the government had established the necessary defence mechanisms such as dumping counter-value, and certain measures to address the negative effects of trade liberalisation.

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