HARARE – A Zimbabwean business delegation is today expected to meet with counterparts from South Africa at a forum to be held in Pretoria to explore trade and investment opportunities.
The delegation is part of President Robert Mugabe’s official three-day state visit to neighbouring South Africa focusing on bilateral and economic cooperation as well as regional and continental matters.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Charles Msipa, yesterday confirmed to businessdaily that the business-to-business meeting is expected to create the ground for potential investment deals between South African and Zimbabwean companies.
“Fifty (50) members from Zimbabwe’s business community including members of CZI have confirmed their attendance while about 50 South Africa-based Zimbabwe business executives are also expected at the forum,” he said.
Msipa noted that the business forum is expected to kick off with a plenary session with focus on presentations of business and investment opportunities between the two countries.
“The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (Zia) will also present investment opportunities available in various sectors of our economy.
“Sector specific workshops will also be conducted and both sides will be able to seize opportunities in new areas,” said Msipa.
South Africa and Zimbabwe have a strong trade relationship, with South African companies commanding a heavy presence in sectors of the Zimbabwean economy such as mining, manufacturing and agro-processing.
“The whole idea is to ensure facilitation of investments into Zimbabwe. We anticipate fruitful opportunities,” said Msipa.
This comes as South Africa remains Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner accounting for 43,1 percent of total imports for the 11 months to November 2014.
According to latest figures from the Zimbabwe Statistical Office, Zimbabwe imported $2,5 billion worth of goods from South Africa, and exported goods worth about $170 million to Africa’s second largest economy.
In total, the country imported goods worth $5,8 billion.
Analysts say Zimbabwe — whose trade with South Africa was evenly balanced a few years ago — will remain a net importer of goods for as long as industries are closing down.
The country is currently experiencing massive decline in manufacturing output due to persistent challenges affecting the sector, which include antiquated plant and machinery, inflexible labour laws, influx of cheap imports, high cost of production, weak effective demand, as well as persistent liquidity constraints.
Economic experts assert that Zimbabwe needs to restore investor confidence to grow its dying economy.
According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) 2014 report Zimbabwe’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows remain stagnant, with the country receiving $400 million in 2013, unchanged from 2012.
The $400 million received by Zimbabwe represents just three percent of total FDI into southern Africa last year.
This exposes investment-starved Zimbabwe’s incapacity to attract meaningful FDI, it desperately needs to jump-start its faltering economy.