HARARE - Zimbabwe has made strides to enhance bilateral relations with Indonesia through increased trade between the two countries.
Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir yesterday told delegates attending a business meeting in the capital there was need for direct contact between Zimbabwe and Indonesia.
“I made this visit mainly to enhance bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Indonesia,” he said, adding that there was need for protection and a sustainable supply of imports.
“So far we have six ample uses that have been agreed by the two governments that is agriculture, technical cooperation, and avoidance of double taxations, investment and empowerment,” he said.
The Asian country imports huge quantities of cotton and tobacco from Zimbabwe and is also looking at ways of exporting some food products into the drought-stricken Zimbabwe.
However, the cotton imports have been declining significantly since the turn of the millennium when Zimbabwe embarked on the chaotic land reform programme.
The government, however, blames residual effects of European Union-imposed targeted sanctions for low cotton production which it says emanates from lack of adequate financial resources to undertake large-scale agricultural activities such as cotton, sugarcane and soya bean production.
Fachir also applauded Zimbabwean companies for consistently taking part in the Indonesian annual business expo.
“Some of the Zimbabwean companies have since 2010 been taking part in trade export in Indonesia every year and it’s a good sign that there has been a direct contact but we need to empower them further in order to share experience with other Zimbabwean business people.
“However, we have to pursue the issue of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two chambers and we have to track more business people to boost our economies,” Fachir added.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive Christopher Mugaga said the industry body was spearheading private sectors partnerships between the two countries following the government’s failure to implement MoUs.
“We are deepening the relationship between private sectors. We want to understand and explore the Indonesian market. We are planning to send a team in October to participate at the Indonesia Expo,” he added.
Despite the absence of a formal trade agreement between Zimbabwe and Indonesia, trade flows between the two countries was significant in the period between 1999-2000 before Western countries imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe.