The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended that Americans should make early moves towards investing in Zimbabwe, a dispatch by the department’s staff shows.
The USDA’s foreign agriculture service, which issues regular assessments of commodity and trade issues made by department staff, acknowledges major policy shifts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, particularly in agriculture. “On January 18, 2018, recently installed Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued the national investment policy statement that outlines the guidelines for investing in Zimbabwe and the available opportunities. The policy statement is part of the many efforts by the new government to attract investors and revitalize the poorly performing economy,” reads the USDA staff report.
“If implemented effectively, this policy could result in an increase in agriculture production and growth of the Zimbabwean economy. Post projects that trade opportunities for the United States may include non-genetically modified (GM) seeds, rice, food ingredients, consumer-oriented products, animal feed, animal genetics, bovine semen, dairy products, plant varieties, wheat, sorghum, legumes, hops for beer production, and liquor products mainly whiskey.”
It adds: “ While some of these opportunities may only be achievable over time, Post recommends that the United States starts as early as possible to build contacts, develop market intelligence, and start engaging the new Zimbabwean government and industry on trade policies and the importance of adopting scientifically based regulations. Supporting Zimbabwe’s adoption of biotechnology, and initiating capacity building and technical assistance programmes, such as the Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship would be the most practical and recommended initiatives to commence at this stage.”
The United States, which imposed sanctions on former president Robert Mugabe’s administration over alleged rights abuses, accounted for less than two percent ($19 million) of Zimbabwe’s US$1,1 billion agricultural imports in 2016.
The USDA dispatch, whose authors state that this does not “necessarily reflect the views of the US government”, is primarily in response to a policy package put together by Mnangagwa’s administration ahead of his historic visit to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, last month.
The Zimbabwe government document showcases investment guidelines and opportunities in the country, which badly needs foreign investment to resuscitate its economy. Since coming to power late November 2017 after the ouster of Mugabe, Mnangagwa has relaxed the indigenization law, except for diamonds and platinum, while committing his government to compensating white farmers for losses incurred during the land redistribution programme.
“According to media reports, while the policy statement has been widely accepted as a move in the right direction, some media articles have argued that investors will likely wait for the elections in 2018 prior to making substantive commitments,” the USDA report adds.
“However, if the policy statement is implemented effectively as presented, there is potential for growth of the Zimbabwe agriculture sector and the economy, which may present opportunities for the United States.”
Source: World Grain News/Fingaz