Japanese business delegation responds to PM's call

HARARE – The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's visit to Japan last month has sparked an immediate response as a delegation representing 15 Japanese firms jets into the country to scout for investment and business partnership opportunities.

The visit by the business delegation is a follow up to the recent visit by President Tsvangirai who is also Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister to Japan last month. The current visit to Zimbabwe and President Tsvangirai’s visit to Japan last month are designed to forge new partnerships, as economic ties between the two countries scale new heights.

The investors are drawn from a cross-section of Japanese industries and have pledged to invest as soon as opportunities arise. Companies represented in the delegation include Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Central Japan Railway Company, Japan Bank for International Co-operation, Nissin Foods and Rohto Pharmaceutical.

DEFTA Partners (venture capital), King Swing (water treatment), NIPPON KOEI (general consulting), Mitsui Fudosan (urban development), DIC Lifetech (Spirulina production), Toray Industries (water treatment) are also in the delegation.

AFDP head of delegation and board chairman Ambassador George Hara said Japanese firms were keen to invest in Zimbabwe if they could identify mutually beneficial opportunities.

He said Japanese investors had a strong interest in Zimbabwe as one of the key Southern African countries that have strong potential to experience rapid economic development by 2050.

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Trade between Zimbabwe and Japan has increased by 18,7% to US$89 million due to an increase in demand for local agro-based and mineral commodities by the Asian country.

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Trade volumes between Zimbabwe and Japan are poised for growth on the back of proposed bilateral economic cooperation deals expected to be finalised next year.

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Statistics released by ZimTrade after a Japanese Food Market Meeting in Harare show that despite Zimbabwe enjoying a trade deficit of at least US$15 million, the country’s trade volumes with Japan rose from US$72 million in 2010 to US$89 million.

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Japan External Trade Organisation Marketing and Projects Officer, Mr Craig de la Harpe says Zimbabwe should focus on exporting finished goods to unlock value on earnings. 

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“Zimbabwe should focus on product beneficiation to unlock the value of export receipts,” said Mr La Harpe.

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A local exporter, Mrs Nyarai Kurebgwaseka says while Zimbabwe’s industry is committed to increase exports to Japan, capital constraints are hindering productivity.

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“We are still experiencing funding challenges and we need help,” Mrs Kurebgwaseka said.

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Zimbabwe’s exports to Japan comprise  nickel, cotton, ferrochrome, and reptile skins among others, while the nation import goods from Japan such as vehicles, auto parts and medical equipment.

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