RUSSIA has promised lines of credit for local companies and wants joint ventures in a major boost for the struggling manufacturing sector.
CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER
Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha told a dinner hosted by a local daily and the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe on Monday that the visiting Russian delegation was “keen to look at lines of credit which we badly need”.
“They are keen on joint ventures particularly in the manufacturing sector. There are industries that require retooling and new technology,” Bimha said.
“We want to give them an array of what we need for them to choose. They can’t resuscitate everybody. There are industries that we think have that catalytic effect on others.”
The manufacturing sector is currently operating at capacity utilisation below 40% weighed down by obsolete equipment, expensive funding and unreliable utilities.
The sector requires long-term funding which is not available locally due to the short-term nature of deposits. As a result, companies are stuck with obsolete machinery thereby increasing the cost of production. This has made local products uncompetitive as compared to those in the region.
Russian Federation Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said the local businesspeople were interested in developing co-operation with their Russian counterparts.
On Monday, the two countries signed trade agreements during the first session of the Zimbabwe—Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Co-operation.
Manturov said the joint commission was a “good framework to attract more and more Russian investments into Zimbabwe”.
Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was honoured to start a relationship on the economic front.
“This visit marks a historic step to start on an economic journey whose destination is on the economic well-being of the two nations.
The Russian delegation arrived in the country on Monday on a three-day visit.
The visit culminated in the commissioning of the $1 billion Integrated Platinum Group Metals Project in Darwendale yesterday.