Monday, May 06, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Stop exporting raw materials: Ncube
Sunday, 05 May 2013 00:00
Business Correspondent

Zimbabwe must stop exporting raw materials and should start adding value to its materials so that the country realises meaningful benefits, a Cabinet minister has said.

Speaking during the recent Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Professor Welshman Ncube, said the economy is performing badly because it exports products in raw form, which fetch a pittance in comparison to finished products.

“Value addition and beneficiation of natural resources is of paramount importance to our economy. We are calling for value addition at this point in time as it is the only way the lives of many can be changed.

“Value addition creates jobs, hence, bettering lives of ordinary citizens. Our major hindrance to development is our import bill that has risen to unimaginable levels.

“We are exporting raw products which, by nature, fetch low prices on the international market. Value- added goods on the other hand fetch higher prices,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s trade deficit is currently estimated at US$3,6 billion, a figure feared by economists to be a time bomb for the economy.

Prof Ncube said it was critical for the country to re-engage in traditional economic activities that can transform the economy and enhance people’s livelihoods. He said cotton-growing used to employ millions of people in the farming communities.

“There is therefore room for investment in the lint and cotton industry; this is an area that can change lives of many.

“We need investors in the textile industry so as to manage the lint we produce rather than send it outside in its raw form.

“Zimbabwe’s leather sector presents a number of opportunities and as the ministry responsible for industry we will be launching the Leather Sector Strategy in June here in Bulawayo.

“The purpose is to come up with a framework of value addition in this sector,” explained Prof Ncube.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said it was time Government worked expeditiously towards reducing the export imbalance.

“The ZITF has a mammoth task of growing Zimbabwe’s trade in a fair and open manner. We need to adopt policies that foster and seek to empower our local people.

“We can’t talk of indigenisation without empowering our people. The only way we can empower our people is by creating an environment that promotes value addition and beneficiation.

“We need to copy from the best, I have heard of success stories from other countries such as Brazil and South Africa, among others, who have done it and have made it. Zimbabwe must stop exporting raw materials as this continues to disempower the local populace,” said VP Mujuru.

She called on local banks to desist from advancing personal loans to individuals for luxury purposes but concentrate on funding productive sectors which boost the economy.

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