Zim neglects Italy Bippa

HARARE - Zimbabwe has failed to ratify a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) it signed with Italy 19 years ago, a situation that has resulted in low trade between the two countries.

Italian ambassador Enrico De Agostini said the southern African country was not sincere on its quest to do business with the international community as it was failing to keep its promises it made to the European nation about two decades ago.

“Zimbabwe and Italy signed a memorandum of understanding in 1999, but it’s yet to be ratified,” the envoy said at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries symposium in the capital last week.

“I raised the issue with the previous administration in September 2015 and the government promised to ratify the treaty by 2016 but up to now, nothing has been done. When are you going to ratify the agreement?” Agostini asked central bank governor John Mangudya who was present at the meeting.

Several Italian companies from different sectors including energy, construction, mining, agricultural machinery, motoring and foodstuffs have expressed interest to invest in Zimbabwe over the past few years.

These include Salini Costruttori, Spodale Investments, Afrisun Marketing, Silica Mining Consumables & Agricultural Equipment, Associated Tyres and Tarrys among others.

Italian brands are internationally-renowned for quality engineering and superior technology.

The country offers a wide range of business and commercial opportunities and contributes more than 13 percent of the European Union’s Gross Domestic Product.

An important link for land, sea and air routes that provide a gateway to Europe, Italy is ranked sixth among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and fourth among European countries in terms of GDP.

Agostini said the ratification of the 19-year-old bilateral relations agreement will open doors for more foreign direct investment to flow into Zimbabwe.

“It’s not a major thing, but it will send the right signals to the international community that Zimbabwe is now ready for foreign direct investment,” he said.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Mangudya said the new government headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa was moving with speed to re-engage with the international community.

“We are taking all the Bippas seriously and those which are yet to be ratified will be completed soon. The government is ready to finalise all unfinished business.

“The minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is currently seized with the matter,” he said.

Mnangagwa, who recently took over form former president Robert Mugabe, said government was committed to protecting property rights and ratify the Bippas, adding his administration would embrace new friends, including hostile countries, as well as maintaining good relations with friendly nations.

“Fortunately, we are receiving positive signals across the world in the western countries from the United Kingdom, German, France, India, China and Brazil, among others.

“We are receiving positive signals for co-operation. So, on the issue of international engagement, it’s a moment where we are receiving goodwill and we must ride on this goodwill as a country,” he said while officiating at a summit organised by the Zimbabwe Business Club.

Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was ready for business, promising investors that they would be able to repatriate their profits to their countries.

“With regards to the repatriation of your profits, your earning, you are guaranteed that you will be able to take out your money subject, of cause, to approvals by the minister of Finance and Reserve Bank governor.

“But at the end of the day, you will take out your money, with respect to the fact that anybody goes in business to make money,” he said.  — The Financial Gazette

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