via Britain, Zim scale-up bilateral trade – DailyNews Live 13 July 2015
HARARE – Bilateral trade between Zimbabwe and Britain totalled $73,6 million, according to consultancy firm British Expertise, in the eight months to August last year.
Catriona Laing, the British ambassador to Zimbabwe, urged her fellow countrymen to invest in the country despite deteriorating economic conditions.
“There are large scale opportunities for inward investment in energy and extractives, as well as in infrastructure, manufacturing and financial services,” she said in a report entitled Doing Business in Zimbabwe – A guide for UK companies released last month.
The envoy noted that United Kingdom firms remain the partner of choice for many Zimbabweans, given historic links, a shared legal system and a compatible business culture.
This comes as Britain — the colonial master of Zimbabwe until 1980 — has had fraught relations with President Robert Mugabe’s government, battling over rights abuses and London-backed sanctions.
Although the European nation expressed reservations on Zimbabwe’s controversial 2013 elections that extended Mugabe’s rule on the country, Britain has been urging other developed countries to invest and help revive Zimbabwe’s economy.
Laing said between 2014 and 2015, there has been two UK trade missions to Zimbabwe and her embassy was exploring scope for follow up.
“To realise its potential, the government of Zimbabwe needs to do more to improve the business environment,” she said adding that investors were keen to support empowerment but need assurances that their assets were secure, and that profits can be repatriated.
“The promised clarification of indigenisation policy by the government of Zimbabwe is welcome and if well-handled could help attract investment,” Laing said.
A number of international firms, particularly but not only from BRICS countries, have begun to make serious investment into Zimbabwe given high return opportunities.
“A growing number of UK companies including Avanti Communications, Info Tech Financial Technologies and British Environment Resource Management have won tenders in Zimbabwe; Atlas Mara Co-Nvest has made significant investment in 2014,” read part of the report.
Faced with a liquidity crunch, sclerotic growth and decades of crisis and under-investment, Zimbabwe has increasingly sought to tap investors wherever they can be found.