Chinamasa’s French connection

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Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s plans to visit France with a view to woo French investment into the ailing Zimbabwean economy are at an advanced stage, the businessdigest has learnt.

Fidelity Mhlanga

Chinamasa, who is facing fiscal pressure due to dwindling revenue collections amid demands to improve civil service wages, is expected to visit France in the first half of this year to lure investments into the country.

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“It’s an investment-driven visit to present Zimbabwe as an investment friendly country. The government has made inroads in addressing the investment climate,” French ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse said in an interview on Tuesday.

He said the treasury chief will have a chance to exchange views with the Paris Club of creditors, with full engagement expected once Zimbabwe has dealt with other multilateral creditors.

“I requested an appointment with the minister and we want to discuss his visit. We want to discuss the relevant time and dates. We are now in the final stages,” he said.

After Chinamasa’s visit Delahousse said he will look into modalities to invite Chinamasa’s French counterpart Michel Sapin to Harare. Delahousse added that the recently gazetted amendments to the indigenisation laws have been welcomed by French businesses in the country.

“We had dinner with the French businesspeople in Zimbabwe and we discussed various topics about the Zimbabwean economy. There is a generally positive reaction by the French business community operating in Zimbabwe on the new indigenisation framework,” he said. “This is welcomed by the French companies since most of them are here for long-term investments. They want to invest in relationships and bring development into the country.”

The French ambassador added: “Our initial reaction is positive.

We have noticed some debates between ministers involved, but generally it’s a welcome development because French companies are familiar with empowerment policies in Africa.”

Embassy of France, Southern Africa financial counsellor, Gilles Bordes this week met officials from the Office of the President, Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe during a three day mission.

Bordes said low commodity prices and drought will weaken economic growth in Zimbabwe with a rebound expected next year after the implementation of various policies by government.

In January, a business delegation from France consisting of 10 major French companies with a total turnover of US$1 billion and led by the French busin

In 2015, French investments to Zimbabwe amounted to over US$80 million.

French companies that have footprints in Zimbabwe include Lafarge, Total, Vinci, SamrecImerys, Bureau Veritas, SeedCo and Limagrain. Motech and Motul, AGS Frasers, Gyproc and Saint Gobain, Anchor Yeast and Lesaffre and Meteo France International and Sanofi.

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