BY MSHMA CHAKANYUKA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa joined other African leaders in Mozambique yesterday for the 12th Africa-United States (US) business summit as he seeks investment for the struggling southern African nation.
The last US-Africa business summit was held in 2017.
“President Mnangagwa will today (Tuesday) join other African leaders for the 12th Africa-US Business Summit themed Advancing a Resilient and Sustainable US-Africa Partnership. Zimbabwe has an opportunity to engage, network, explore and advocate for trade and investment,” the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services tweeted yesterday.
The business summit is themed Advancing a Resilient and Sustainable US-Africa Partnership and is bringing together 1 000 US and African private sector executives, international investors, senior government officials and multi-lateral stakeholders.
For African nations participating, this event provides a chance for them to meet new investors, including agri-business, energy, health, infrastructure, information communications technology and finance.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the United States Department of Commerce, US direct investment in Africa was pegged at $50,2 billion in 2017, a dip of 2,7% from the comparative year’s $51,7 billion.
In regard to Zimbabwe, the summit gives the Mnangagwa-led government an opportunity to engage, network, explore, and advocate for trade and investment from other countries.
Recently, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said US companies were keen to invest in Harare, but were wary of the volatile political and economic climate.
In terms of trade, from 2013 to 2018, the US “imported $291,5 million worth of goods from Zimbabwe and exported goods worth $250,7 million, leading to a positive trade balance of $40,8 million for Zimbabwe. During this period, Zimbabwe was US’ 180th largest goods export market”.
According to the US embassy in Harare, US’ total imports of agricultural products from Zimbabwe totalled $16 million in 2018 and the leading categories included raw beet and sugar cane ($16 million), tea ($5 million), tobacco ($4 million) nursery products ($732 000) and spices ($476 000).
Investment and trading trends indicate that US investors seek areas where they can get high returns with clear exit opportunities.
Mnangagwa’s heading to the US-Africa summit comes as the country is currently under targeted sanctions over human rights abuses, which will only be removed once tangible economic and political reforms are implemented.
Latest figures from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development world investment report show that Zimbabwe recorded total foreign direct investment (FDI) of $745 million in 2018.
Comparatively, the report shows that FDI flows to the southern Africa region recovered to nearly $4,2 billion last year, from -$925 million in 2017.