HARARE – The Zimbabwe Australia Business Council (ZABC) says Zimbabwe needs to aggressively market itself to the international community to attract meaningful investment while creating a market for its products.
“Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set up local manufacturing industries on the products we may have a competitive advantage.
“If you look at mining for instance, the sector has not received capital for a long time and according to the Chamber of Mines it is estimated that Zimbabwe needs between $5 billion to $7 billion over the next five years,” said newly elected ZABC president Victor Gapare adding that Australian markets provided ready source of capital.
“Zimbabwe has vast natural mineral potential which needs capital to develop and the phenomenal development of the Australian mining industry in the last 20 years can be replicated here,” he said.
“There are also opportunities to add value and by exposing ourselves to more markets, particularly the Australian market in terms of capital you can get other people who might want to put capital in the value addition process,” added Gapare.
He said the body will continue striving towards improving skills development in Zimbabwe necessary to get the economy working again.
Economist John Robertson speaking at the ZABC meeting said there was need for government to come up with investor friendly policies as the current environment was not supportive of investment.
“We do need to change the policies affecting investors. At the moment investors are not encouraged to come into the country and the policies that are being proposed and following indigenisation are vigorously discouraging investors because we are in desperate need of foreign investment flows,” he said.
Australian ambassador Matthew Neuhaus said the revival of the ZABC will realise great growth in trade between Zimbabwe and Australia.
“We want to realise increased investment from Australia in Zimbabwe and I would like to see the group work as a business advocacy to both governments. I do believe there has been a bit much focus on politics and not enough effort is being directed on practical economics and strengthening relationship,” said Nehaus.
The ZABC is a non-political business association for people who are currently conducting or who wish to seek opportunities for trade with Australian counterparts.
ZABC seeks to enhance trade and investment between the two countries by acting as a conduit of business information between current and potential business partners in each country.
ZABC members are drawn from Zimbabwe’s commercial sector and Australian companies operating locally.
Trade between Australia and Zimbabwe has been low with imports in Zimbabwe at $8 million and Zimbabwe’s exports mainly tobacco accounting for $3,5 million with Australian development funds totalling more than $50 million.
The ZABC was originally founded in 1994 to develop commercial ties between Zimbabwe and Australia, but suspended operations in 2002 due to the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.
ZABC was re-launched in August this year. – Kudzai Chawafambira