Press Statement by Ambassador Catriona Laing on UK trade mission to Zimbabwe

Ambassador Laing spoke at a press conference alongside Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen

I welcome you to this press conference

The UK Trade Delegation arrived in Zimbabwe this afternoon and is being led by Alex Lambeth, Director of British Expertise. British Expertise is a leading trade organization supporting British companies overseas, with extensive global experience in project finance, infrastructure, construction and development.

The delegation will spend the next three days engaging with the Government of Zimbabwe at Ministerial level and meeting heads of parastatals. They will discuss the realities of doing business in Zimbabwe and investment opportunities where the UK can add value.

The theme of the mission is applying UK expertise in project finance, infrastructure and development to support the implementation of Zim Asset, the Zimbabwean Government’s five year plan for sustainable development. The UK believes that legitimate trade and investment is vital for Zimbabwe’s development and supports Zimbabwe’s home grown initiatives to regenerate its economy.

The mission is an important step that we are taking to strengthen trade and business links between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. In order that these efforts bear fruit, the Government of Zimbabwe will need to take steps to improve the environment for foreign investors, including those from the UK. We are clear too that economic progress must be matched by progress on governance and the rule of law, which are sought by Investors the world over, and are important in attracting those investors who help develop the local populations.

In addition to strengthening trade ties between the UK and Zimbabwe, I would like to mention the work the UK is doing here in Zimbabwe, to foster economic growth.

As the largest bilateral donor to Zimbabwe, spending $116m this year, we are working to end aid dependency by facilitating job creation for poor Zimbabweans, using new technologies, micro-finance, capital prizes and increased access to finance.

One aim of this work is to make it easier and less costly to do business in Zimbabwe. We will do this by supporting investment climate reforms through a $7.8 million programme to deliver business advocacy support, arrange financing for Zimbabwean small and medium enterprises and build capacity in both the public and private sector.

In recognition of Zimbabwe’s liquidity constraints, and the high perception of investment risk, our $23 million Pro Poor Growth Programme provides access to finance for small, medium and large businesses and microfinance institutions through a combination of grants and loans over a four year period.

Finally, with 30% of the rural population still living on less than $1.10 a day, we must help kick start the rural economy. A new $72 million UK programme will seek to increase agricultural productivity, increase incomes, improve food and nutrition security, and reduce poverty.

I hope this demonstrates that the UK will do all it can to support the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people for a more prosperous Zimbabwe.

I would like to thank the Zimbabwe Investment Authority represented here by Mr Nigel Chanakira for their unwavering support in assisting the embassy coordinate the Ministerial meetings for this trade mission.

The UK Government strongly believe that with the right investment and policy reforms matched by good political will Zimbabwe can and should recover. This trade mission is part of our confidence building measures, and it is my sincere hope that this initiative will help to unlock robust business opportunities for the mutual benefit of our two countries.

I thank you.

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