SA, Zim seek to expand business ties

Pretoria - Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina says South Africa and Zimbabwe must work together to pursue their national interests, especially in the area of trade.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at a gala dinner hosted by the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, in Harare, on Monday. The dinner was part of the Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) to Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo, organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti).

"The development of South Africa is intrinsically linked with that of other countries in the Southern Africa region and the rest of Africa. As neighbours, it is incumbent upon us to work together closely in ensuring that we increase trade between our countries and achieve economic growth.

"The role of business in this mission can never be overemphasised. As government, our main task is to create a conducive environment for business to operate smoothly," said the Deputy Minister.

Deputy Minister Masina is accompanying a 30-member business delegation on the ITI to Zimbabwe, which kicked off on Sunday. The Deputy Minister said the bilateral economic and political relations between SA and Zimbabwe have been strengthened by the signing of the Bi-National Commission agreement in April last year. This, he said, opened doors for broader, more intense and high level cooperation between the countries.

"That is why we are here with a group of business people. We want them to engage with their counterparts here in Zimbabwe and exchange ideas that will result in them establishing partnerships and joint ventures and start manufacturing operations," he said.

The Deputy Minister emphasised the value of pursuing industrialisation and the beneficiation of mineral resources throughout Africa to grow the economies of the continent.

He said there is a need for Zimbabwe and South Africa to contribute to efforts aimed at achieving regional integration in the continent. He cited the tripartite free trade area comprising the Southern African Development Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African community as an example of regional integration.

"The importance of the free trade area is that it will provide a market of 600 million people for our goods and services. This will expand to one billion when the continental free trade area that is being negotiated by our leadership is achieved," he said.

The ITI will conclude on Sunday.