From Pamela Shumba in St Petersburg, Russia
ZIMBABWE is using the 21st St Petersburg International Economic Forum to market investment opportunities in the country and to seek possible lines of credit to lubricate economic growth.
This emerged here on Thursday where three Cabinet ministers on economic portfolios, led by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, are attending the high profile economic forum. The country is also marketing Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone and a tourist destination with a target of luring Russians in an effort to boost trade and tourism in the resort town.
Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa revealed in an interview that discussions were underway to entice Russian investors and seek lines of credit from the giant country’s finance institutions. “We’re having several bilateral meetings with investors who are interested in investing in Zimbabwe. And we’re looking for investments in all sectors of the economy,” said the minister.
“We’ve also been talking to the Russian financial institutions for lines of credit to support our productive sector and infrastructure development. We’re also marketing Victoria Falls as a Special Economic Zone for tourism as well as a financial services sector. There have been airlines now flying into Victoria Falls bringing in tourists. We would also want to see Russian airlines bringing in tourists into the resort town to see one of the great wonders of the world.”
Minister Chinamasa said the country had already cleared the arrears to the International Monetary Fund and work was in progress to clear the arrears to the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
He said the forum was mainly for Russians who are looking for foreign direct investments adding that the country was keen to work with them.
“Our interest is diversified. We’re trying to make contact with Russian investors to lure them to come and invest in Zimbabwe. Our meetings have basically been bilateral and I think we’ve had good meetings.
“We’re also here in order to open up the Russian market to our agricultural products and we’re emphasising the fact that we’re a non-GMO producer and that it will be in our mutual interest to open up the Russian market for our horticultural citrus products. I think as the first step we’re encouraged by the interest that is shown in Zimbabwe,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He added that Zimbabwe was also interested in investments in the mining, manufacturing and the technology sectors. Minister Chinamasa and counterparts, Walter Chidhakwa (Mining) and Dr Mike Bimha (Industry and Commerce) were joined by a delegation of business people and technocrats who are also participating in the economic forum, which ends today.
“In the mining sector we’re talking about exploration in our diversified mineral base. We’re happy that the Russians are showing interest,” said Minister Chinamasa.