HARARE — Zimbabwean companies are set to benefit from a €700 million facility unveiled last July by the Netherlands government earmarked for the development of small to medium businesses in 66 developing countries, the Dutch envoy has said.
Gera Sneller, the Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malaw, told The Source last week that her country last year developed a new business instrument called the Dutch Good Growth Fund to fund business development in emerging markets and developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.
“As the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe, we held a one day seminar to publicise this fund to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi and we have had a resounding response to this fund from Zimbabwean companies, SMEs and intermediary financial management companies,” she said.
Sneller said at the moment the embassy was working to promote business between the two countries and to attract Dutch investors to Zimbabwe.
“The trade relations between Zimbabwe and Netherlands have been good over the years although we have noticed a huge decline in the exports to Netherlands from Zimbabwe (from $13, 287 million in 2010 to $5, 233 million in 2012) due to the general economic decline that Zimbabwe has experienced over the past few years.
“However, exports to Zimbabwe from the Netherlands have slightly increased from $18 million in 2010 to $19,3 million in 2012,” she added.
Sneller said that to attract increased foreign direct investment, government must clarify the indigenisation policy and address issues of policy inconsistencies – as they have a negative impact on trade.
Last week, the government gave businesses 60 days to propose amendments to the indigenisation and empowerment agreements and to agree to new plans within seven months.
“In addition, it is important for the Zimbabwean government to observe the various bilateral and multilateral agreements it has signed with various stakeholders as a measure to restore and maintain investor confidence,” said Sneller.
Sneller noted that relations between the Netherlands and Zimbabwe deteriorated significantly between 2002 and 2009 after President Robert Mugabe and senior government officials were placed under sanctions by the European Union on allegations of ‘serious violations of human rights.’ Mugabe denies the charges, saying the sanctions are retribution for his seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
During this period several Dutch businesses operating in the country either completely closed shop or relocated elsewhere.