Developing an export promotion strategy for the post–conflict reconstruction of Zimbabwe
The study intended to investigate whether Zimbabwe possesses realistic potential export opportunities that can lead to the sustainable reconstruction of its economy. The study was initiated on the premise that Zimbabwe is a fragile state and a post-conflict country going through reconstruction. The study also premised itself on the foundation that the current recovery efforts by Zimbabwe – although they have yielded some positive results, have still fallen short of providing sustainable economic growth without meaningful deeper reforms. Hence, this study is an attempt to provide policy makers with an alternative researched export promotion strategy with a focus on realistic potential opportunities. The study employed two techniques, namely survey of literature and empirical investigation. The survey of literature was achieved through theoretical literature on post-conflict reconstruction. Exports were identified in the various experiences of those countries that have gone through post-conflict reconstruction and still managed to use them in their recovery process. This necessitated a thorough investigation of literature to draw a theory upon which exports promotion could rely. The major theory that was surveyed in the literature is exportled growth (ELG). The theory is based on the premise that exports influence economic growth. Empirical evidence through literature was established in the studies carried out in different countries supporting the hypothesis. The theory was seen as superior to the import substitution strategy which led many developing countries to lag behind those which adopted export-led growth policies. The other aspect of empirical investigation was carried out through the application of the Decision Support Model (DSM). This is a scientific model that is used as a method of market selection. The model’s 4 filters were modified to include a 5th filter to specifically take into account the special circumstances of Zimbabwe. The 5th filter extension of the model provided a substantial contribution by this study to the model. A proxy of Zimbabwe’s neighbours – namely Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia was used to reinforce Zimbabwe’s competitiveness. This was based on the assumption that if Zimbabwe’s neighbours under similar conditions can successfully penetrate certain markets, then Zimbabwe should not find it difficult to penetrate the same markets. This empirical investigation showed that Zimbabwe does possess realistic potential export opportunities. The results identified 344 realistic export opportunities (REOs) for Zimbabwe in 17 regions, 50 countries, 13 sectors and 112 product lines. The study observed that Zimbabwe is in fact not utilising much of the REOs. In order to enable Zimbabwe to utilise the REOs, the study developed an appropriate export promotion strategy. The export promotion strategy is based on the results obtained from empirical investigation. The export promotion strategy has sub-strategies which respond to the specific needs of individual sectors and individual markets. The study established that instead of spending resources in an unfocused manner, the meagre resources can be applied to a more focused export promotion strategy. Based on the experiences of other countries that have gone through a similar post-conflict reconstruction process and have also used the theoretical conceptual framework of the export-led growth theory, the DSM results show there are realistic export opportunities (REOs) and these may contribute towards economic growth and recovery. The study further provided recommendations on how Zimbabwe could realise realistic potential export opportunities. This study has made a three-fold contribution. Firstly, a contribution has been made to the literature on post-conflict reconstruction and export promotion. Secondly, a significant contribution has been made by extending the Decision Support Model with a 5thfilter that also considers the supply side in the model. Finally, it has formulated an export promotion strategy, which can be applied by policy makers in Zimbabwe.