April 16, 2004

Talks with Malawi to bring down barriers to trade

Zimbabwe is working with the Malawian government to facilitate smooth trade between the two countries. Industry and International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi confirmed the talks, saying the officials would meet to iron out barriers to exports. In the past three years, Zimbabwean exporters have been facing resistance to their products in the Zambian and Malawian markets because of the weakening local currency that has rendered their goods cheaper compared to its neighbours. In the recent past, Zambia and Malawi have barred selected Zimbabwean hardware and food products from their market, citing anti-dumping regulations. Harare in turn has argued that these moves were against the spirit of regional trade protocols under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Zimbabwe exports tobacco, textiles, beef, gold, cotton, flowers and horticultural products, asbestos, ferro-alloys and other minerals to various countries throughout the world. In turn, the country imports chemicals, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and petroleum products.

Zimbabwe is a member of several multilateral organisations that provide avenues for trade and trade-enhancing activities. Investors in the country enjoy preferential treatment in regional and international markets through Zimbabwe's membership to SADC and COMESA. The country also has bilateral trade agreements with Malawi, South Africa, Egypt, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Efforts are underway for bilateral trade arrangements with countries in the Far East. The country's COMESA membership provides potential for increased trade in a market of approximately 320 million people. The COMESA free trade area will enjoy an accelerated reduction of tariffs, making it easy for Zimbabwean exports to enter the regional market. (Financial Gazette, Harare)

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