The Herald (Harare)

26 April 2014

Zimbabwe Open for Business - President

Zimbabwe is open to investment and the country's empowerment policy is not meant to expropriate shares held by foreign-owned companies, President Mugabe has said.

Officially opening the 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair here yesterday, the President said indigenisation had been subject to "misrepresentation and misinterpretation", with some people claiming it was meant to seize foreign-owned businesses.

"As originally set out, it is meant to empower and integrate the majority of our people into the mainstream economy," President Mugabe said.

"The policy aims at achieving inclusive growth, sustainable development and social equity. There is not exploration on nationalisation of shares held by non-indigenous persons in companies, as some of our detractors would want the world to believe. Rather, any equity that an indigenous person takes up will be disposed of at fair value.

Listen to President Mugabe's speech below:

"With this clarification, let me take this opportunity to invite potential investors to come and do business in Zimbabwe in which there is huge potential for joint venture partnerships between investors, manufacturers, industrialist and the public sector. We want investment from abroad."

In his address at celebrations to mark the country's 34th Independence anniversary in Harare on April 18, the President said the Indigenisation policy was not cast in stone and foreigners can hold majority shareholding in any enterprise, depending on the nature of their investment.

The President said the illegal Western sanctions on Zimbabwe were undermining Government's efforts to create an environment ideal for doing business.

"I don't understand why the United States, of all democratic countries, should choose to single our country for sanctions," he said.

"We can only say we are singled out because of the policies we have perused that benefited our people, especially land reform."

Despite the embargo, the Head of State and Government said the country "will not die under sanctions".

President Mugabe said investment in productive sectors, which is at the core of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, would fortify the economic development.

The President said Zimbabwe was fully committed to the regional integration agenda that has proven to be the cornerstone of creation of bigger markets and boosting trade.

Zimbabwe is a member of both Comesa and Sadc.

As such, President Mugabe urged local industry to be more aggressive and take advantage of opportunities brought by existing bilateral, regional and other international trading agreements and arrangements, some of which offer duty-free and quota-free market access.

He added that Government was committed to the tripartite Comesa-SADC-East African Community initiative, which seeks to harmonise trade integration commitments by addressing complications arising from overlapping membership of the regional economic communities.

"In the face of this regional trade integration agenda and globalisation, I call upon industry and commerce to be more aggressive in adopting and indeed, adapting to cutting edge innovations solutions in order to sustain competition," said the President.

"Investment in relevant technologies in order to improve on productivity and quality of goods and services is therefore critical in order to take advantage of export opportunities in the region and beyond."

President Mugabe underscored the need for local value addition and beneficiation of natural resources.

He said his Government would work "tirelessly" to mobilise long-term funding for industry in light of prevailing liquidity challenges, which have resulted in limited credit to firms, while urging the private sector to embrace Zim-Asset.

There was also an urgent need to revamp infrastructure, particularly in energy, he noted.

With the number of countries exhibiting at this year's trade fair increasing from 16 last year to 19, President Mugabe said this demonstrated the confidence the international business community had in Zimbabwe's economy.

This year's edition of the ZITF was held under the theme "New Ideas to New Heights".

It started on Monday and will close today. China has the highest number of exhibitors followed by South Africa.

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