An eight-member American delegation led by Elzie Higginbottom says it is excited about business opportunities in the country and is ready to do business.
The delegation, which arrived in the country last week and includes former US Congressman Mel Reynolds, is scouting for opportunities in mining, tourism and the financial services sector.
Higginbottom said he came to know about the country through interactions with Deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khuphe and Arthur Mutambara.
“It’s all about making money and creating opportunities for our people,” said Higginbottom.
Welcoming the delegation, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray paid tribute to the continued support from Higginbottom in telling the world about opportunities in Zimbabwe.
“We’re here this evening to welcome Higginbottom and his associates to Harare. They are here because Zimbabwe’s economy is growing again. Trade and investment ties between the United States and Zimbabwe are also growing,” said Ambassador Ray.
“That’s good news for everyone, not least because it shows that there are plenty of areas in which the US and Zimbabwe can and do collaborate well for mutual benefit. Trade and investment create jobs, and both of our countries need more of those.”
Ray said Zimbabwe is the fastest-growing economy in southern Africa and among the top three fastest-growing on the continent.
“As I told the standing-room-only crowd in Washington — to a very warm applause — I am happy to stand out front, as the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe and tell business leaders that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business.’
“Of course, there are also big risks to manage and potholes to dodge. We also know that politics matters, and political uncertainty is the main reason financing for business in Zimbabwe is scarce and expensive. But Zimbabweans are able to overcome those divisions and improve the investment climate.”
Ray said local entrepreneurs and policymakers should continue to market the country and the opportunities it offers to the outside world.
“I am pleased to report that a growing number of US companies are contacting me because they now agree that they should know more about doing business here. The American Business Association of Zimbabwe (ABAZ) is also doing great work to open doors.”
ABAZ chairperson Tawanda Gumbo said their recent visit to the US had exposed the information deficiency.
“There is also need for a diplomatic initiative by our embassies not only for them to address the political side of things, but also business,” he said.
Zanu PF chairman ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo said the role of government was to facilitate trade between states.
“We are delighted by your coming. It would have been nice if you met the President.
“Nonetheless I hope you will find time to meet the Acting President and let’s do business,” he said.
Other members of the delegation include John Girzadas, Hugh Williams, Don Zimelis, Munir Muhammad Mandene Muhammad, David Rosen and Maze Jackson.
In October, ABAZ led a delegation of 15 Zimbabwean businesspersons to the US for the US-African Business Summit organised by the Corporate Council on Africa. The summit included the “Doing Business in Zimbabwe” forum held on October 5.
Trade figures show Zimbabwe’s trade with the US continues to grow.
In 2009 and 2010, annual US goods exported to Zimbabwe rose 30% over the 2000-08 average. Zimbabwe had a trade surplus with the US each year from 1996 through 2006.
In 2008, trade with the US accounted for 6,5% of Zimbabwe’s external trade, more than twice the 2003 share.
Bilateral trade declined sharply in 2009 with the global economic downturn, but grew by 18% in 2010.
Through August of this year, the US and Zimbabwe traded goods worth $94 million, a 46% increase over the first eight months of 2010.