Engagement, re-engagement pays off

THE huge presence of the United States of America, United Kingdom, the European Union (EU) and several other foreign exhibitors at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) showcase is a solid indicator of the positive results of the Second Republic’s economic diplomacy-focused engagement and re-engagement policy. Since coming into power in 2017, President Mnangagwa has boldly declared the country’s desire to normalise relations with the global community including those that were previously hostile to Zimbabwe. 

After years of frosty relations with the United States and its Western allies, the Second Republic has made inroads on the diplomatic front, which has seen 27 countries showcasing their products and services as they seek to do more business with Zimbabwe.

This year’s ZITF runs under the theme: “Innovation: The Catalyst for Industrialisation and Trade” and will be officially opened by Kenyan President Dr William Ruto.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday conducted a tour of exhibition stands and observed the strong presence of foreign exhibitors with the United States having the biggest footprint at Hall 4. The foreign exhibitors are exhibiting a range of products and services and are eager to rekindle strategic partnerships with Zimbabwe to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

From innovative technology to high-quality goods, the US delegation said its participation at the biggest trade showcase is aimed at exploiting new business exploits.

“We are delighted to be a part of this important event and to have the opportunity to connect with the vibrant business community in Zimbabwe. 

“We want to showcase our partnership with the country. We will be showcasing our vast initiatives that we have to offer. We have fellowship programmes in education and business,” Mr Larry Socha, US public affairs officer said in an interview at their stand.

“We also have 1 700 Zimbabwean students that benefit from our programmes and we just want to let Zimbabwe know that we are here to assist in all areas possible.

“We look forward to building strong partnerships and fostering greater economic cooperation between our two countries.”

Mr Socha said the participation of American companies at the ZITF is a testament to the growing relationship between the two nations. 

He said visitors can expect to see a wide range of American products, all showcasing the best of American ingenuity and craftsmanship.

“The US delegation is eager to make a lasting impression at the ZITF and is confident that this year’s event will be a tremendous success. As we are showcasing our offerings to the Zimbabwean market, we are excited to see what opportunities lie ahead for both countries,” said Mr Socha.

The EU said it was back at ZITF for the second year running, being inspired by the successful exhibition last year where it got a top award. 

“The EU’s commitment to deepening economic ties with Zimbabwe is clear. This year, the EU stand, larger than last year, will feature even more EU member states with #TeamEurope representation from Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, and Romania offering a unique opportunity to meet and exchange with visitors,” said the bloc in a statement. 

“The EU stand will also host various #TeamEurope funded projects underway in Zimbabwe.”

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Jobst Von Kirchmann, said they were dedicated to fostering a positive business environment, including working with Zimbabwe.

“We are committed to working with Zimbabwe to promote investment, innovation, and inclusive growth. The European Investment Bank’s support for the private sector, along with our role in Zimbabwe’s good governance initiatives, pave the way for the brighter economic future we all envision,” he said.

The Republic of Belarus, which has become a permanent feature at the ZITF, said participating in the trade showcase has opened business opportunities for the two countries.

One of the lead exhibitors and Bison Agro Machinery sales and marketing director, Mr Andrei Kleinov, said seven Belarus companies were participating at the ZITF.

“Belarus and Zimbabwe are big friends and we do big business between our countries. Every year we come here with machinery representatives, food representatives, pharmacies representatives and we do business with Zimbabwe and this trade fair gives us an additional chance to meet our partners, show our new products, and discuss future opportunities and discuss progress that we have made,” said Mr Kleinov.

“The biggest thing we are making in Zimbabwe is we are helping to mechanise agriculture as we understand in Zimbabwe you have a lot of arable land but not all of it is used productively. There is a lot of manual work so we are helping Zimbabwe with mechanisation equipment necessary for improving the farming process and providing food security for the country.”

South Korea is at ZITF for the first time as a tribute to its 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe. Through its Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency trade consultant, Ms Venatte Sechabe, the country is eager to tap into new markets and seek partnerships with Zimbabwe and other players.

“We have heard about the ZITF trade show throughout the years, but we didn’t have the opportunity to partake, so when the opportunity arose, we said let us go. 

“Also 2024 is the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between South Korea and Zimbabwe so we thought what a better way to go and celebrate the relationship between these two countries,” she said.

“Korea is well known for being an innovative country for all types of products, so we are here to let Zimbabwean people know that if they need anything from food and beauty products, they can contact us and we will assist them in sourcing the items from Korea.”

For Botswana, ZITF is another reminder for African countries to strengthen the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Botswana’s Export Development and Promotion executive director Mr Temo Donald Ntapu said eight countries from his country were participating at ZITF.

“It’s important to trade among ourselves. I guess you might be aware that the level of intra-Africa trade is very low, it’s about 15 percent or so. 

“This is the reason why as Africans we have formed the AfCFTA to increase trade among ourselves because traditionally as we all know African countries we are selling unprocessed commodities to the rest of the world,” said Ntapu. 

“This has limited the rate of product that we can trade with each other so initiatives like these expos are meant to improve our level of intra-Africa trade and the only way we can improve intra-Africa trade is for us to move in the place of manufactured products.”

A Zambian exhibitor and Bethany’s Pure Honey executive director Ms Ester Chibale, said it was a good experience exhibiting at ZITF and she wanted to expand her business horizons.

She said Zimbabwe and Zambia are like siblings and there is already a lot of trade happening between the two countries.

Chronicle

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