The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government is working on ratifying 19 Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) as it forges ahead to boost investor confidence and attracting the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), a Cabinet Minister said.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said the ratification of 19 Bippas by the Government was at an advanced stage as part of efforts to encourage capital inflows into the country.
“The Government has signed 19 Bippas but they are not yet ratified, the reason being that there is a certain clause, which Zimbabwe is not comfortable with but nonetheless we have found a way of pushing that forward to ensure all the 19 Bippas can be ratified . . . ,” he said.
A Bippa is a legal instrument that establishes specific rights and obligations to meet the primary purpose of protecting foreign investments against discriminatory measures like policy inconsistencies by the host state.
In principle, it ensures reciprocal encouragement, promotion and protection of investments, thus enabling conditions conducive to increase investment.
Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSeza) chief executive officer Mr Edwin Kondo said the imminent ratification of the 19 Bippas would play a pivotal role promoting investor confidence towards investing in the country.
“Bippas are bilateral and are a welcome instrument to give investors confidence to invest in countries where they exist. They give safety and mutual trust for cross-national international investors, as business is the major beneficiaries of Bippas. It is a very welcome development to give investors trust, protection and confidence to make long-term investment decisions into Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Kondo said although Bippas create a conducive environment to attract investment into the country, Zimbabwean companies can seize the opportunity to also invest offshore.
“Bippas are reciprocal, meant to protect investments in each other’s terrain. While Zimbabwe is attracting inward looking investments into Zimbabwe, local companies can also invest offshore,” he said.
Mr Kondo also urged investors to consider investing into the country’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
“We therefore urge investors to take note and make investment decisions now. Investments into SEZ are long-term decisions,” he said.
Renowned economist and founder president of the National Business Council of Zimbabwe Dr Keith Guzah said the ratifying of Bippas can never be over emphasised as they give the much needed confidence required by the country’s trading partners when investing.
“When we cry high and low for FDI, we must of necessity create the enabling environment required by the investing foreigners to transact freely and be able to repatriate their earnings in foreign denominated currency of their choice to their countries,” he said.
Dr Guzah said assured investment safety and security would culminate in increased FDI into the country.
“The protection of their investments must be done at Government level through Bippa. Once this assurance is done, I’m sure we will be able to see some meaningful investments in the country. Zimbabwe must show its willingness to participate on the international fora by ratifying these Bippas,” he said.