Cyril Ramaphosa Source: Google Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked for the elimination of trade barriers and a conducive investment climate for South African companies investing in Zimbabwe.

Ramaphosa is currently in Zimbabwe for a Bi-National Commission meeting between the two neighbouring countries. The two countries enjoy strong trade ties, with South African investors such as Impala Platinum, Tongaat Hulett, Pick n Pay and Nedbank among others having a heavy presence in Zimbabwe.

Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by the “participation of South African investors in banking, retail, mining and services amongst others” in the Zimbabwean economy.

“There are good prospects for both of our countries but there is also a need to ensuring ease of doing business and elimination of trade barriers,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trade partner, with South African banks also playing a key role in supporting productive sector companies in Zimbabwe. However, there have been concerns that Zimbabwe is not protecting investments and calls are growing for President Emerson Mnangagwa to sort out policy certainty in order to attract fresh funding and secure current investments.

“South Africa stands ready to render support to Zimbabwe within our means in your quest for economic renewal,” said Ramaphosa. “We should work together to explore issues to deepen our cooperation (and these) include deepening social ties through greater people to people cooperation”.

Zimbabwe is desperate for fresh investment as it battles to bring its economy back on sound footing. Economists say some investors have left owing to a liquidity crunch that is frustrating business executives and investors.

An official from South Africa attending the BNC said in an interview that Ramaphosa will impress to Mnangagwa during their closed-door meetings the need to uphold property rights and to restore certainty to the currency and economic policy frameworks.

The IMF said last week that the success of Zimbabwe’s currency reforms will depend on the implementation of sound monetary and fiscal policies. Mnangagwa also said during the official opening of the BNC that “opportunities for mutually beneficial co-operation and joint ventures are vast” and challenged “private sector players to ride on the goodwill” currently prevailing between the two countries.

Zimbabwe and South Africa, who have already signed about 45 bi-national agreements, are expected to finalise more trade agreements and further economic ties. Ramaphosa has also been vocal against the continued imposition of sanctions