Mauritius has appealed to Zimbabwe to resume its beef and butter exports to the island country which relies mainly from imports as it does not breed cattle, a trade official has said.
Chairman of the Enterprise Mauritius, Amédée Darga who is leading a 12-member delegation on a two-day buyers-sellers meeting in the country which opened today, said his country was open to trading with Zimbabwe in various sectors.
Enterprise Mauritius is the Indian Ocean island’s main trade promotion agency, jointly run by the government and private sector.
Like Zimbabwe, Mauritius is a member of both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“There was a time when Mauritians were eating frozen beef and butter from Zimbabwe. We also used to get steel from Ziscosteel. I can only wish that these days come back,” said Darga.
He said there was need for Zimbabwe to build its capacity and resume supplies to Mauritius, which currently imports butter and beef from countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
“There is no reason why we can’t import butter from Zimbabwe, the door is open and there is no reason why we should import beef from Australia and New Zealand and not from your country. We deeply regret that we are no longer able to get these products from Zimbabwe. We hope that in the near future we can see Zimbabwe products in Mauritius.”
Zimbabwe suspended beef exports to the European Union and other countries in 2001 when the Cold Storage Commission, at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, collapsed due to mismanagement and persistent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.
Darga, whose country also imports cotton from Zimbabwe to run its over 200 clothing factories, also welcomed exports of value added goods such as yarn fabric.
Mauritius’ annual exports to Zimbabwe have declined over the years from the peak of $8 million in the 90s to $750 000 last year, according to Darga. During the first quarter of this year, he said, his country had exported goods worth $270 000 to Zimbabwe.
So far the companies attending the trade mission have clinched deals worth $2.4 million, he said.
Darga said there were many areas that the two countries could cooperate with Mauritius boasting of jewellery making companies, diamond cutting and polishing centres, engineering, cosmetics, chemical and biotechnical products including pesticide-free fertilisers.
Mauritius exports 19 percent of its products to other African countries and is also now producing heart devices, eye cornea and breast implants for women.
While Mauritius readily provided data of its exports to Zimbabwe, Zimtrade chief executive Sithembile Pilime declined to give figures of the country’s trade with the island republic.
However, according to International Trade Centre, a joint trade agency between World Trade Organisation and United Nations, Zimbabwe’s exports to Mauritius plummeted from $4.8 million in 2011 to $28 000 last year.
Exports in pearls, precious stones, metals and coins amounted to $13 000 last year up from $11 000 in 2012 while works of art, collectors pieces and antiques earned the country $17 000 in 2012 compared to $7 000 last year.
Mauritius, with a population just shy of 1.3 million and an economy lauded for being open and efficient, consistently ranks highly on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. Mauritius was ranked 28 in the 2015 index, out 189 countries, while Zimbabwe comes in at 171.
According to the World Bank, upper middle income Mauritius’ gross national income per capita is $9 300, while low income Zimbabwe’s per capita GNI is $820.
Zimtrade’s Pilime said the country would formalise its trade with Mauritius through a memorandum of understanding to be signed next year and called for increased intra-regional trade.
“There is very little trade in the region, there is need to grow inter Africa trade,” she said.
She said intra-regional trade stood at around 12 percent while trade with North America stood at 40 percent and 60 percent with the European Union.
“Zimbabwe needs to look at sectors we are strong in and also look at the niche market in Mauritius which we can supply to,” she said, adding that the there was need to improve local products and packaging.
Pilime said the country could export fruits and vegetables, chemicals, arts and crafts which are in demand in Mauritius.
Relations between the two countries span over decades when Mauritius availed 300 teachers to help the country after independence.- The Source