Impact of imports on Zimbabwe's furniture manufacturing industry
Kanyangarara, Shephard Tendai
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This study sought to determine whether imports were negatively impacting on Zimbabwe’s furniture manufacturing industry. It also sought to establish whether these imports had an impact on employment levels and the viability of the industry. The furniture manufacturing industry was once a key export contributing sector, which capitalised heavily on the country’s abundant supply and natural advantage in timber, but had diminished its role as a currency earner due to increased competition of imported competitive furniture products. The study was carried out through the distribution of questionnaires to executives and management of firms in the furniture manufacturing industry. The target population was made up of firms in Harare and Bulawayo, where the significant furniture manufacturing firms are located, and policy makers in government and employee representative organisation. The results of the study indicated that imports had a negative impact on the furniture manufacturing industry. It was also found that imported furniture products had resulted in increased levels of unemployment and had negatively affected productivity levels and industry viability. The study concluded by recommending strategies that may be adopted by Zimbabwean furniture manufacturing firms to counter the negative impact of imports. These included, among others, the adoption of new technologies, realistic cost projections, internal resource generation and product differentiation. Recommendations were also made for the raising of import duty levels on imported products. Area for further study would be to evaluate those product lines that local furniture manufactures had a competitive advantage in and channel resources to the production of these products to counter the negative impact of imported products.