TOTAL trade between Zimbabwe and India in 2015-16 was $222,31 million, an amount not commensurate with the good political relations between the two countries, an Indian envoy has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking at the Indian National Day in Harare on Friday, Indian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Rungsung Masakui, said during the past eight months, he had tried to work on changing the perception of Indian businesses in order to strengthen bilateral ties.
“Total trade between the two countries in 2015-16 was around $222,31m. The volume of the bilateral trade and investment is not commensurate with political relations that the two countries enjoy. Concerted efforts are required from both sides to realise the full potential of our trade and economic ties,” he said.
“On the corporate/private business interest and investment in Zimbabwe, I do not have to say much. It was my endeavour over the last eight months to convince and correct the perception of Indian business houses and corporates in India that the Zimbabwean market is not as bad as some international and local media make it out to be. And I will continue to further these efforts.”
India is Zimbabwe’s third biggest source market for raw materials, tying in with Australia and Zambia, according to a report by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
Trade between India and Zimbabwe is highly skewed in favour of the Asian giant.
Between the months of January and August 2016, Zimbabwe Statistics Agency reported the country had imported about $128,1m worth of goods.
The Indian government is set to invest in Zimbabwe’s small-to-medium enterprise (SME) space, a rapidly growing sector of the economy, to further boost trade between the two countries.
SMEs seeking to increase trade with Indian businesses and corporates will have opportunities in gems and precious metals, iron and steel, plastics and plastic articles, and leather products, among other sectors, according to India’s import data.
Masakui said though their exports are yet to pick up, they had managed a stable external sectors with sizeable foreign exchange reserves.
Zimbabwe is in desperate need of foreign currency and India’s “sizeable foreign exchange reserves” have been noted as a major attractive business potential.
“India continues to emphasise on the partnership in the area of capacity building and have strengthened our Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (Itec), which is our flagship programme,” he said.
Masakui said in addition to 180 Itec slots allotted to Zimbabwe, the Harare Institute of Technology had signed memorandums of understanding with seven technical universities in India.
He said India desired to continue to enhance co-operation and understanding with Zimbabwe on issues of mutual interest at bilateral and multilateral levels.
Last year, the Zimbabwe India Chamber of Commerce released an investment guide booklet as a guide for Indian and foreign investors seeking to do business in Zimbabwe.
Some of the major bilateral-driven projects involve upgrading the Bulawayo Power Deka pumping station and water pipeline to Hwange Power plant, among others.