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UK makes Zim business investment a priority

UK ambassador to Zimbabwe Pete Vowles

THE British government has made business investment a key priority for its mission in Zimbabwe and is now seeking a trade and investment adviser, signalling the thawing of frosty relations between Harare and London.

While Zimbabwe’s total exports to the UK did not feature in the top 20 destinations in the first 10 months of the year, the southern African nation imported goods worth US$122,19 million, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat).

The total imports were up by more than half from US$80 million realised in the same period last year. The UK did not feature in the top 20 export destinations last year.

“The British embassy in Harare is looking for a dynamic and capable adviser to help in leading the embassy’s work  of promoting trade and investment between the UK and Zimbabwe. Sitting within the Green Growth Team, the adviser will provide a crucial interface with British businesses and investors looking to enter or expand in Zimbabwe,” the UK embassy said.

“The Green Growth Team leads the UK’s efforts to deliver a cleaner, greener planet and strengthen economic ties that deliver sustainable growth and increase UK trade and investment in Zimbabwe. The adviser will work closely with other team members who have expertise in economics, private sector development and climate, and engage with the UK Department for Business and Trade’s regional network of specialists.”

In terms of investment, the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency reported that there were four British projects with an investment value of US$77,4 million signed this year. This was from 11 projects valued at US$19,5 million over the same period in 2022.

The current priority sectors include agriculture (horticulture, beef and dairy), renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, e-mobility) and financial and professional services. Further, there is also strong and growing interest in mining and critical minerals, such as lithium.

“Increasing UK business investment in Zimbabwe is a key priority for our team @UKinZimbabwe: creating Zimbabwean jobs, strengthening ZWeconomy, and deepening the ZW/UK partnership,” UK ambassador to Zimbabwe Pete Vowles said, on microblogging website X, on Friday.

According to the UK government, total exports to Zimbabwe amounted to £203 million (US$257,86 million) in the four quarters ended June 2023 while total imports from Zimbabwe amounted to £266 million (US$337,88 million).

The statistics from the UK government’s Department for Business and Trade were released last Thursday.

These figures are different from those recorded by ZimStat, however, as total imports from the UK during the same timeframe were US$144,89 million while exports to the European country did not register in the top 20 destinations.

The UK embassy said the role of a trade and investment adviser was external facing, engaging regularly with businesses and government partners in Zimbabwe to understand the opportunities and constraints to doing business here, and working to increase UK trade and investment.

Specifically, the overall purpose is to increase the value of trade between Zimbabwe and the UK by tackling barriers faced by businesses seeking to access the Zimbabwean market or those looking to export to the UK.

Another purpose is to drive forward British investment into Zimbabwe to support its economic growth agenda and achieve mutual prosperity.

“The British embassy in Harare is committed to supporting all staff with their career development plans and the post holder will have the opportunity to access significant on-the-job learning as well as discussing opportunities for other structured learning and development with their line manager,” the UK embassy said.

The application deadline for the trade and investment advisory role is January 14, 2024.

Relations between the two countries soured at the turn of the millennium after Harare embarked on a fast-track land reform exercise to “redress colonial imbalances”.

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