The centre, based at the ZimTrade head office in Harare, will among other things assist the businesses, among them SMEs, access EU markets and seize opportunities arising from the interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the bloc.
The Euro 3 million euro project is aimed at helping revive Zimbabwe’s economy.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of Zim-EBIC, Arancha Gonzalez, executive director with the International Trade Centre, said the centre would help foster dialogue between the public and private sectors and review the country’s competition law.
Trade support institutions would be capacitated to help the private sector.
“ITC helps SMEs move up the value chain, improve competitiveness and get to regional and international markets.
“This enables SMEs create jobs and become a powerful means to reduce poverty,” said Gonzalez, noting that SMEs in Africa are major agents of economic growth.
According to the African Development Bank, Africa has more than 50 million SMEs which employ 60 percent of the workforce.
She said from a socio-economic angle, on the continent, a large number of the SMEs are women owned and provide job opportunities for the youth.
The centre will also build the capacity of Zimbabwean trade support institutions such as Zimtrade to access information, interface with this data and create opportunities to request specific market information that would be of direct use to traders in Zimbabwe.
An oasis for trade information will be developed and allow for connections with other national bodies such as the Ministry of Trade, the Horticultural Promotion Council or the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council.
Gonzalez urged the EU and the targeted Zimbabwe business players to translate objectives of the opened centre into action.
Chiratidzo Mabuwa, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, commended the EU for its continued support to Zimbabwe business and other sectors.
Mabuwa said Zimbabwe was keen to promote business ties with the 28 member EU on a win-win situation.
“With such an institution in place Zimbabwe would be poor by choice and I call upon local businesses to make maximum use of the centre.
“ZimTrade should avail business information to the nation through mobile SMS so that it cascades to villages in remote areas,” said Mabuwa.
Aldo Dell’Ariccia, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said Zimbabwe had a lot of business potential which would be tapped into through the centre if government put right policies in place.
“Zimbabwe should respect trade norms as this is key to successful international business. The Zimbabwe government and the EU are holding discussions aimed at improving business investment between the two parties,” said Dell’Ariccia, hoping the process would be continued to fruition.
Dell’Ariccia said Zimbabwe had an excellent leather industry and the EU would develop the country’s livestock sector for the EU market.
Priscilla Pilime, chief executive officer with ZimTrade, said Zim-EBIC would provide the country with EU market intelligence.
“Non tariff and duty for Zimbabwe products in the EU should be fully utilised through facilities provided by ZIM-EBIC,” said Pilime.
She said since the centre would help remove barriers created by lack of investment knowledge in the EU, local SMEs should take advantage of the development and maximise on available opportunities.Post published in: Business