Japanese firms wary of investing in Zim

HARARE - Japanese companies are attracted to invest in Zimbabwe but remain cautious of the political and economic uncertainty in the country, a top official has said.

Yoshi Tendai Hiraishi, the Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe told businessdaily that the southern African nation has a tough task of normalising its business environment to attract foreign investors.

“There is a lot of potential in many areas in Zimbabwe. Japanese companies that previously operated in Zimbabwe still have interest in information communication technology and natural resources. Some of them are interested in agriculture as well,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s relations with Japan took a strain at the turn of the millennium when the southern African country was slapped with trade restrictions by the European Union and the United States of America on allegations of human rights abuse.

This was after the government had embarked on a controversial land reform programme aimed at addressing land imbalances in the country.

More than 4 500 commercial farmers were pushed out of the land to pave way for over

400 000 landless peasants. Since then, several foreign companies left the country and settled in neighbouring countries.

However, following the establishment of the inclusive government in 2009 — which helped to bring political and economic stability — there has been an increased investor interest on Zimbabwe.

Hiraishi, however, noted that an enabling investment climate, economic and political stability was also an important yardstick for the smooth flow of foreign direct investment.

“Of course, we have been making utmost efforts since 2012 to work on the commitment of our Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and trying to convince those Japanese companies which used to be here to come back to Zimbabwe,” he said. “However, I should admit that the successful result of our efforts must be subject to enabling economic and political conditions in Zimbabwe,” he added.

Hiraishi said there must be mutual efforts from both sides, adding that this “will ensure the increased cooperation between the two countries”.

This comes as foreign investors, who shunned Zimbabwe for the past decade due to political uncertainty and hyperinflation, are also maintaining interests in the country but have remained cautious with their finances.

 

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