‘Use Zimbabwe-China Fair to Create Robust Business Linkages’ [interview]

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Byline: Martin Kadzere

Jun 08, 2012 (The Herald/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — IN the last decade, the Government has adopted the Look East Policy in a bid to bust sanctions imposed on the country in early 2000 by the West. And in recent years, there has been a considerable increase in trade and investment between Zimbabwe and China. However, locals are facing difficulties in trading with China because of the size of the Chinese economy and the complexity of the industrial structure.

To this end, Africa Economic Development Strategies in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Embassy are hosting the first ever Zimbabwe China Trade Fair.

Our business reporter Martin Kadzere (MK) spoke to AEDS chief executive Mr Gift Mugano (GM) about the Zim-China fair to be held next month.

What are the objectives of the fair?

It seeks, inter alia, to create business linkages between the companies of the two countries. The fair will be held at the Rainbow Towers in Harare, from July 2-4. It will run under the theme “Unleashing Zimbabwe’s Potential: Turning Minerals into Dollars”.

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Which companies are you expecting from China?

We expect companies participating at this grand occasion from China to come from various sectors which include electronics, hardware — building materials, construction and machinery, industrial equipment — motor industry and buses, clothing and textiles, cosmetics and beauty products, agro-chemicals and equipment, medicines and pharmaceuticals. We are happy that quite a number of companies from China have confirmed their participation.

What about local companies?

In Zimbabwe and the region, we expect participants to come from similar sectors. You are obviously aware that China is the new economic powerhouse in the world and most economies including Western countries are also looking to the Chinese.

Our companies are constantly sourcing (various goods) from China and most of them are failing to penetrate the Chinese market because of a number of factors such as the language barrier and the intimidating structure of the Chinese economy. As a result, most of our companies have resorted to buying from South African companies which have strong international supply chain management.

We have taken note of this as AEDS and we believe this trade fair will address these procurement challenges.

Will you have a platform during the fair where traders and investors can interact?

We are going to have a match making symposium, a platform where traders and investors meet during exhibitions and create networks.

The end result is creation of business linkages of related business which result in a number of benefits including smooth, easier and solid networks in supply chain management; trade facilitation between Zimbabwe and Asian countries and significantly lowering the costs of doing business.

At the end of the fair we are hoping that investment and trade relationships between Zimbabwe, Chinese clients and other investors will become stronger. Competitive insights of Zimbabwe’s opportunities for investment and growth, opportunities to negotiate with the potential investors and traders, introduction to new products and services and realisation of the benefits of Zimbabwe-China engagement in global economy are expected.

The trade fair will certainly provide an excellent opportunity for potential and current investors to engage with Zimbabwe and exploit its vast investment opportunities.

Who are the speakers?

They include Minister of Industry and Commerce Prof Welshman Ncube, who will be the guest of honour, Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara, Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Tapiwa Mashakada, and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Others are Minister of Mines and Mining Development Dr Obert Mpofu, Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa and various speakers from the business community and development partners.

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Participants will also have an opportunity to interact with various high-powered speakers who will be making presentations which are expected to set the tone on how Zimbabwe and China can turn their strong political relations into robust economic ties.

What are the registration procedures?

For the registration, Africa Economic Development Strategies has joined hands with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. Companies can therefore register either with AEDS, CZI or ZNCC.

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