Cader Sayed-Hossen, Mauritius minister of industry, commerce and consumer protection, told the first Mauritius-Zimbabwe Buyers Sellers forum in Harare that "although both countries are active members of the two regional economic communities – SADC and Comesa – bilateral trade between the two was negligible”.
"Our trade volume does not do justice to our strong regional relations. We need the two countries to explore further avenues of trade and economic co-operation as well as our private sectors to focus on opportunities that each country offers," he said.
"In addition, as partners in the promotion of a greater integration with the East Africa Community (EAC) under the Comesa-EAC-SADC Tripartite initiative, we have to do better than this," he said, pointing out that this was his first foreign visit since taking up his new portfolio as minister of industry.
Sayed-Hossen said Mauritius was seriously considering the setting up of a Mauritius-Zimbabwe Business Council, and "this was in the early stages of deliberation".
"I am convinced a strong council can be a springboard to finalise business deals and dream," he emphasised, adding he had also invited his Zimbabwean counterpart to lead a business delegation to Mauritius early next year.
And in a clear indication of his intent, he said Mauritius, through its trade promotion agency Enterprise Mauritius, had brought about 20 business people to sign a memorandum of understanding with their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Zimbabwe's deputy minister of industry and commerce, Michael Bimha, in turn said the visit had been an "encouraging and significant first step in fostering trade" and he believed "this level of trade can be easily surpassed".
According to 2009 trade figures, the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to a paltry $45 million – mainly in mineral fuels, chemical products, malt, fertilisers and cotton. In turn Zimbabwe imports textile, agro and food processed products as well as ICT gadgets, taking advantage of the free port in Mauritius.
"While we have a better natural resource and industrial base, these need service and beneficiation and that's where Mauritius comes in," he added.Post published in: Business