Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra has been given a major fillip after Britain’s Department for International Trade (DIT) to set up an office in Harare.
The DIT office, led by Mr Tom Hill, a distinguished official with impeccable credentials from international private finance, is expected to chart a new paradigm in the United Kingdom’s economic relations with Zimbabwe.
Former Zimbabwe envoy to China Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa told The Herald yesterday that the coming in of the DIT to Harare marks the first time since 1890 that local businesspeople have an opportunity to directly access international private capital to boost the economy.
“It (opening of the DIT office in Harare) is a very important move and we want to pay homage to the genius of President Mnangagwa and his Finance Minister (Professor Mthuli Ncube) for creating direct access to private capital,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.
“The move by the Department of International Trade to open a whole new chapter in the ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ mantra is critical as it gives the skills to our local entrepreneurs to access global capital markets directly without intermediaries.
“So this is the first time since 1890 that local entrepreneurs can access global capital markets on their own, as in the past we had to go through Old Mutual.”
Ambassador Mutsvangwa said the missing link was always to teach local businesspeople to go to London, Tokyo, Milan, Shanghai, New York, and other capitals, to look for private capital.
“Now, the move by DIT opens opportunities for local businesspeople to access the Arabian Wealth Fund and Vanguard of America. These companies and others are the ones that sit on huge funds of up to $90 trillion and hitherto, our destination has been the Bretton Woods institutions that have up to $6 trillion.
“Now we are refocusing our attention to New York, Wall Street, Frankfurt and Milan, among others, where we get private capital. In other words, the coming in of DIT brings the City of London to the capital markets of Zimbabwe and we no longer need an interface.
“The posted officer has solid credentials from international private capital markets, well beyond the run of the mill NGO dollops of trickling aid,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.
Mr Hill has previously worked for J.P. Morgan in the investment accounting services as well as corporate actions department, and has spearheaded the setting up of the DIT’s export strategy.
Mr Hill told the Global Trade Review that the decision to set up shop in Zimbabwe was motivated by the UK’s realisation that “Africa is an increasingly important continent to the UK’s prosperity and security interests”.
“We are expanding our footprint across the continent to respond to the demand we see for UK goods and services as well as to deliver the Prime Minister (Theresa May’s) ambition for the UK to be the largest G7 investor in Africa by 2022.
“We are seeing a significant uptick in interest in Zimbabwe, including at the recent GTR Southern Africa Trade & Infrastructure Conference in November, and we wish to ensure we are doing all we can to support this interest, whilst also supporting the UK government’s wider commitment to Zimbabwe’s sustainable economic growth,” said Mr Hill.
He added that they would work to facilitate UK investment into Zimbabwe, advocate for changes to the business environment to unlock further trade and investment, and also to develop local export capability to create more markets for UK goods and services in the long term, positioning the UK as a partner of choice for Zimbabwe.
“On this point we are working closely with the likes of ZimTrade to create more export opportunities for Zimbabwean business in sectors such as agri-business, and are working to build the brand of Zimbabwean produce in the UK.
“We are also working with partners in government, such as the Department for International Development and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to ensure that efforts to support the macro-economic recovery in Zimbabwe are aligned with support for UK business overseas,” said Mr Hill.
Source : The Herald