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Businesses challenged to grow exports in the services sector

Zimbabwean businesses have to grow exports in the services sector for the country to realise its vision of becoming an upper middle income economy by 2030, a trade official has said.

The Southern African nation’s services exports currently stand at US$444 million and come mainly from travel, transport and tourism.

Speaking during a ZimTrade webinar on developing exports of services Thursday, the trade and exports promotion body’s director of operations, Phillip Phiri, said it was high time Zimbabwe grew exports in the services sector.

“We need to expand and increase the basket of export products in the services sector,” said Phiri. 

“We have to start including educational services exports and financial services exports so that we are able to achieve the target set for us to grow exports in Zimbabwe. The export of services becomes very critical in us achieving the vision that has been cast by the leadership of this country, therefore this seminar seeks to create a roadmap of how we can be able to increase the export of services from Zimbabwe.”

He said with Africa’s export services accounting for 54 percent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP), it means the sector and is an attractive field for investment. 

“Zimbabwe having a pool of abundant skilled manpower, is poised and positioned to be able to grow its services industry as we take over Africa,” said Phiri.

“Current statistics shows that the services sector globally is a US$6 trillion business in the whole world with Africa currently exporting services up to the tune of US$114 billion and top countries in those exports in Africa being South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.”

Phiri said ZimTrade had since identified the export of services as key in growing the country’s export receipts as well as the GDP.

“The global village is becoming hi-tech and very much digitalised, so it only befits us a nation to start pushing exports of services as one of the key growth areas,” he said.

“As ZimTrade we have done extremely well in promoting horticulture, processed foods, furniture, household goods, building and construction material. We want to also in the few years to celebrate growth and achievements in the services sector.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Thamsannqa Siwela, a chartered accountant, said services were not easy to export compared to goods, calling for the easing of restrictions in the sector.

International Trade Centre trade policy advisor, Quan Zhao, said despite challenges of digital infrastructure, Africa with the world’s youngest population, has the potential to grow the services exports sector.

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