Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
BELARUS has resolved to put up a permanent national pavilion at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu announced this development during a press conference on Saturday to mark the end of the 60th edition of the ZITF held in Bulawayo.
The Eastern European country exhibited for the first time at the five-day event that ran under the theme, “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment”.
“Of note is the first time participation by Belarus who brought in eight companies and has shown interest in putting up a permanent national pavilion. This is a significant outcome of His Excellence the President’s visit to Eurasia and Belarus in particular,” said Minister Ndlovu.
In January, President Mnangagwa visited Belarus where he held a business meeting, which covered areas such as mining, technology and innovation, trade and economic co-operation as well as procurement of agro-equipment with that country’s President Alexander Lukashenko.
The visit was in sync with the new political administration’s re-engagement with the international community with a view to attract foreign direct investment as well as unlocking fresh lines of credit.
Zimbabwe has in the past failed to attract investors and fresh lines of credit as a result of negative perception of the country as an investment destination.
The US which has imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe was among the countries that participated at this year’s fair having been absent from Zimbabwe’s international trade showcase for three years.
Minister Ndlovu said 14 foreign nations participated at this year’s trade fair.
“The participating countries include Belarus, Botswana, Germany, Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Zambia,” he said.
During the trade fair, Belarus expressed its readiness in strengthening economic ties with Zimbabwe.
A senior specialist of foreign exhibition department in the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms Slava Shevchuk, told Business Chronicle at the just ended trade and investment expo that some of the products they were showcasing were from her country’s four flagship companies namely BELAZ, Minsk Tractor Works, SOHRA Overseas FZE AND chefi.
Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga who was the guest of honour at the Zimbabwe-Belarus Business Networking Forum held concurrently with the trade fair, urged local businesses to grab investment and export opportunities presented by Belarus.
The country has secured a US$120 million export credit line for the supply of machinery and equipment for agriculture, dam construction and mining.
Zimbabwe and Belarus have signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering mining, science, technology and innovation; trade and economic co-operation; procurement of agri-equipment and fertiliser supply.
The two countries have enjoyed diplomatic ties since 1992 following the break-up of the Soviet Union but its only recently that the two countries extended their relations to cover economic co-operation. — @okazunga