Zimbabwe and Kenya, which are currently dominating trade in the Preferential Trade Area of Southern Africa, are reported to have taken a major stake in the recently launched regional re-insurance firm which is known as Zep-Re.
Each of the two countries owns 200 shares in the Nairobi-based firm which was launched with a stock capital of 20 million UAPTA divided into 20 000 shares valued at 1 000 UAPTA, each.
This major investment comes at a time when there are increasing fears that Zimbabwe could lose its export market because of its regional dominance.
According to Zimtrade Zimbabwe’s total trade with countries of the PTA and Botswana increased from $87 million in 1980 to $1 059 billion in 1990. The organisation says, however, this rather optimistic picture needs to be tempered by the very real resentment felt by many regional partners because of the consistent trade surpluses over the decade.
Zimtrade says, for example, in 1990 Zimbabwe exported goods valued at $797 million to the region but only imported $262 million worth of goods.
It had trade surpluses with Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
It had no trade with the Comoros and only had a trade deficit with Djibouti, Mauritius and Swaziland.
Zimtrade says this is an untenable situation if Zimbabwe is to further expand its export penetration of the region.
It says the organisation will, in the next six months, develop a programme to assist those countries that have regular deficits with Zimbabwe to increase their exports to this country.
The rationale behind this strategy is that in order to expand its exports to the region, Zimbabwe has to help other countries to pay for these exports by buying more from them.