Economic Planning permanent secretary Desire Sibanda told businessdigest that the Singapore business community will visit the country this year and thereafter a Bippa will be signed.
The ministry participated in the Singapore-Hong Kong road show last year, which sought to expose Zimbabwean companies to leading financiers and companies interested in partnering it on key projects.
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada (pictured) said that Bulawayo will be given a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status by year end as part of the investment drive
An SEZ is a designated area in a country that possesses special economic regulations that are different from other areas in the same country. These regulations are usually designed to be more conducive to foreign direct investment and may include tax incentives and lower tariffs.
The ministry was currently drawing up the rules and regulations that would be used in amending the Zimbabwe Investment Protection Act so that the SEZ can be accommodated. It will replace the Export Processing Zones.
Mashakada said for now the status would be specifically for Bulawayo but would be applied to other areas as well under a clustering arrangement. The ministry said SEZ’s are the “in-thing” in terms of investment promotion, giving an example of Zambia, whose trade with China had increased after it zoned certain areas as SEZs.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Xin Shunkang told the Zim-China investment conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair last week that the country should come up with investment policies to lure investors to Bulawayo. China, he said, was the best example of a country which enacted best investment polices when it went through economic challenges similar to Zimbabwe’s in the 1970s.
“China invited foreign countries to build factories free of charge and that policy has worked for the country,” the ambassador said.
China’s Tianjin Province and the Economic Planning ministry will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will help cement the relationship between Zimbabwe and China.
Tianjin had called for the speedy granting of SEZ status to Bulawayo as the Bulawayo province was working towards a twinning arrangement with the Chinese province. Sibanda urged local authorities to move quickly to take advantage of the Chinese appetite for investment.
However, Mashakada stressed that government was not only looking to China but also to the rest of the Brics countries. For instance government had signed a Bippa with India last year and were hoping this would trigger investment from that country. However India and Russia did not take part in this year’s ZITF.
A road show into another Brics country, South Africa, had yielded investors into mining, infrastructure and telecommmunications.
Sibanda however said the key enabler in terms of planning was infrastructure. “There is need to upgrade, rehabilitate infrastructure particularly energy for the successful attainment of the Medium-Term Plan.