ZimTrade and JETHRO of Japan will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD) set for this week in Japan.

The MOU is meant to enhance trade between the two countries especially focusing on niche products while the conference is expected to open opportunities for the country to increase trade and attract investment from Japan and the rest of the world.

Jethro is ZimTrade equivalent in Japan.

In a statement ZimTrade Chief Executive Officer Mr Allan Majuru said the conference which is part of the re-engagement efforts by government is set to increase trade and foreign direct investment with Japan.

“The event, which will take place from 28-30 August is also expected to strengthen relations between two countries as Tokyo and Harare remain strategic development cooperation partners.

As Japan and Zimbabwe have been enjoying cordial relations, TICAD will provide options for Zimbabwe to increase exports of processed products to Japan,” he said.

In the previous years, Zimbabwe has been exporting mostly raw commodities to Japan, whilst importing finished products.

Mr Majuru said, “For example, major exports to Japan in 2018 were ferro-alloys, vermiculite, unmanufactured tobacco, cotton, waste and scrap of precious metals.

Other major exports to Japan were cut flowers and flower buds, raw and, tanned or crust hides and skins.

At the same time, Zimbabwe’s major imports from Japan have been primarily finished products such as motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products, machinery and machinery appliance, electrical machinery and equipment and iron and steel”.

Given this unbalanced trade of raw materials versus processed goods, the forthcoming TICAD is expected to increase investment from Japan, especially in the manufacturing and processing industry.

“TICAD is a prime opportunity to strengthen Zimbabwe-Japan relations given the vast trade and investment opportunities.

Zimbabwe will be presented with an opportunity to sell its products and services to the Japanese business community and there is no better time to do so as we are now improving the ease of doing business.

“Zimbabwe has a lot to offer to Japan, both as investment opportunities and, as products and services”, said Majuru.

Zimbabwean commodities that have potential in the Japan market include fresh flowers, manufactured tobacco, coffee, leather and leather products, fresh oranges and bananas and ferrochromium.

“Investment opportunities that Zimbabwe will sell include manufacturing sector such as cotton to clothing, beef to leather value chain, woods and furniture, chemicals and fertilisers, and metals and metal products. Investment opportunities are also in agro-processing, mining, infrastructure, energy and tourism development sectors,” he said.

TICAD is expected to cement development cooperation between Japan and Zimbabwe.