Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
TRADE promotion body, ZimTrade has urged exporters to utilise the recently launched trade obstacle alert feature to report any impediments they face when exporting so that they can be addressed quickly to create a conducive trading environment.
According to ZimTrade, the Trade Obstacle Alert feature is an interactive tool designed to facilitate the identification and elimination of trade obstacles which exporters encounter when selling their products or services or importing raw materials.
“Policy makers do not always have a clear understanding of the main obstacles being faced by exporters on the ground hence this tool will enable them to develop trade policies which create a favourable and conducive export environment when ZimTrade engages them on behalf of the businesses,” the organisation said in a statement on Friday.
The facility which was operationalised last month is found on the Zimbabwe Trade Information Portal and complements existing features such as the Export Readiness Checker, a tool which can be used by enterprises to assess their readiness before venturing into the export business.
Addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Seminar in Bulawayo recently, ZimTrade chief executive officer Ms Sithembile Pilime said the country is imposing too many restrictions on its exporters.
Some of the impediments to exports according to Ms Pilime included lack of cost competitiveness arising from a plethora of regulations/permits; attendant levies associated with permits, different and scattered offices for export documentation and long periods of processing permits and approvals.
Other impediments include high production costs arising from obsolete machinery and high cost of utilities and other inputs.
Exporters also face the problem of having approvals being only processed in Harare and sometimes Bulawayo, an inconvenience and costly exercise to SMEs and established companies outside these two cities.
Zimbabwe’s main exports are tobacco which accounts for 23 percent of total exports and diamonds, platinum, ferrochrome, and gold. The country’s main export partners are South Africa, China, Congo and Botswana.