The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says local firms have the potential to exploit the US$700 billion COMESA market from the current intra-trade figures of US$15 billion within the 19-member trading bloc.

The US$15 billion being generated through intra-COMESA trade was revealed at a workshop in the capital convened by the CZI and COMESA with a view to find ways of promoting the participation of the private sector.

CZI Trade and Investment Committee chairman Mr Henry Nemaire says there is huge potential for local firms to actively participate in the COMESA market for the growth of the local economy.

Director International Trade in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Mrs Beatrice Mutetwa said the challenge is that most member states are trading in agricultural products though there is need for a wider source of goods.

COMESA has a population of over US$500 million people with a gross domestic product of US$718 billion and the launch of the COMESA Customs Union in 2012 created a larger market for member states.