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TONDERAYI MUKEREDZI BUSINESS EDITOR –
Bilateral trade between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom (UK) totalled £47 million ($73,6m) between January and August this year, information from British consultancy firm, British Expertise reveal.
In their report released last week following a scoping mission to Zimbabwe last month, British Expertise said during the same period, the UK exported goods worth about £27 million ($42,2m) to Zimbabwe, which is 24% decline compared to the same period in 2013.
The UK also imported £19,5 million ($30,5m) of goods from Zimbabwe between January to August 2014, representing a 36% increase over the same period in 2013.
In 2012, the UK services sector exported around £70 million ($109,6) of services to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is currently the UK’s 123rd largest export market for goods.
The report, which gives its thoughts on the British delegation’s findings from its 28 – 31 October 2014 visit, said the indigenisation law needed some form of clarification or the publication of some formal government guidance.
“From our discussions with the Zimbabwean Government, the implementation of the law is rather more flexible than might have initially been understood.
“The delegation was advised that the policy is more focussed on ensuring local involvement in business, rather than requiring companies to simply give up 51% of their company. The 51% can, seemingly, be formulated variously by worker shareholdings, listing on the Zimbabwean stock exchange, local community shareholding, and local partnerships.
“Additionally, at the discretion of the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, companies can receive ‘credits’ against the 51%, if they are making particular Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, or providing a service, which is particularly valuable, or transformative, for the Zimbabwean people,” it said.
British Expertise said the country’s economic plan, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) while it provided a useful overview of the major infrastructure developments government intends to execute, it needed to be built further.
“The document highlights a wide range of projects, some of which are major internationally supported projects that are already underway; others are very speculative ‘wish-list’ type initiatives. ZimAsset should be used as a basis from which to prioritise projects and identify which projects are most suitable for soft loans, private sector investment, or PPP models,” the report said.
It said the strategies under the plan that support each ‘Cluster Matrix’ of projects were very general.
“For example, the Government should ‘adopt PPPs’ or ‘mobilise resources from friendly countries and development partners’. The document clearly demonstrates what the government would like to achieve but not how. UK companies can be of most assistance by providing detailed specialist support in the planning and execution of projects,” it said.
British Expertise’s visit to Zimbabwe was one of the most politically high-profile exercises undertaken by the organisation in recent years.
The delegation met at a ministerial level and received an audience with Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Its visit is seen as as a key step in the future normalisation of UK-Zimbabwe relations.
The delegation represented a number of companies with specialist expertise in the development and delivery of Public Private Partnership (PPP), concessionary infrastructure projects and can help unlock people and funding.