HARARE – Trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa (SA) has marginally increased from R18, 5 billion in 2011 to R18, 8 billion last year.
SA ? the continent’s largest economy ? is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner.
Elizabeth Thebethe, SA’s Trade and Industry deputy minister, yesterday said trade between the two southern African countries “indicated steady growth and strengthening of commerce”.
Trade between the two nations stood at R16,5 billion in 2010.
“It is imperative that we capitalise on these kinds of initiatives to foster economic development between the two countries and the rest of Southern Africa Development Community as this is a prerequisite for doing business with the world economy,” said Thebethe at the 5th Investment and Trade Initiative conference press briefing.
“In the context of markedly improved prospects for Africa, alongside intensifying global competition for Africa’s resources and markets, the need to improve our road and rail infrastructure has become more urgent for the ease of movement of goods and services between the countries,” she added.
Thebethe pointed out that it was important “to utilise the geographical proximity to focus on targeted high growth markets with the objective of creating investment and export opportunities for South African companies.
This will be done whilst simultaneously creating opportunities for Zimbabwean companies to partner with their South African counter parts to advance opportunities of Zimbabwean products.”
To this end, the South African government ? through the department of Trade and Industry ? had adopted a bilateral strategy for economic engagement with the government of Zimbabwe as aligned under the auspices of New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
“The main objective is to achieve mutually beneficial economic growth and development through outward investment facilitation, infrastructure development and trade liberalisation,” Thebethe said.
Zimbabwe ? whose trade deficit widened to $1, 6 billion in the four months to April 2013 ? remains a net importer of South African products.
Samuel Undenge, Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development deputy minister, said “as government, they were yearning to see initiatives yielding tangible investments for mutual benefit of both countries”.
“Both governments are doing whatever it takes to create conducive investment climates.
“Therefore, the ball is now in the potential investors’ court, to access the multifarious investment opportunities that are available in Zimbabwe. The time for you to invest in Zimbabwe is nigh,” said Undenge.