THE US government is confident of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery this year going forward and stands ready to support American companies keen to invest in the country.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Nichols, said this on Monday in remarks to officially open the inaugural US Department of Commerce Post-Reconstruction Trade Mission to Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which was hosted virtually.
Ambassador Brian Nichols
The positive sentiments are a significant shift from strained bilateral relations between Harare and Washington in the past years, which saw the US imposing sanctions on Zimbabwean businesses and key leaders.
Amb Nichols noted positive outcomes of the re-engagement stance taken by the New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa since 2018, but said more loose ends need to be tightened for realisation of mutual gains.
He described Zimbabwe as a “country with incredible untapped potential”, citing the abundant natural resources, vibrant and skilled human capital base, as well as favourable climate for both agriculture and tourism economy.
These present huge commercial opportunities for American investors and the generality of locals, said Amb Nichols, who stressed the need to tackle inherent bottlenecks that impede progress.
In particular, he said the “corruption and economic policies” under the late former President Robert Mugabe, had caused “economic devastation” whose scars have distorted the economy and still impact day-to-day business.
“I am confident this economy is set to grow in this and coming years,”
said Amb Nichols, whose audience included private sector leaders from both countries, senior Government officials and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Washington DC, Tadeous Chifamba.
Ambassador Tadeous Chifamba
“We also support US companies in Zimbabwe. We want you to succeed not only because the opportunities here can translate into American jobs back home, but also because US companies play an important role in Zimbabwe.
“I should add that I am personally eager to advocate officially on behalf of companies pursuing business opportunities with the Government.”
Amb Nichols said the bold reform agenda being pursued by the country so far was notable and critical in widening economic opportunity for Zimbabweans but urged the Government to further scale up the initiative to eliminate outstanding risks facing local and foreign businesses.
“That question lies at the heart of Zimbabwe’s economic future. That question also shapes the relationship between the United States and the Government of Zimbabwe,”
Amb Nichols acknowledged the New Dispensation has made significant efforts to re-engage the US government and the international community saying that the country has
“made reform progress in some areas”.
Although the US still maintains hurtful sanctions on the country, he said his government remains committed for continued engagement with Zimbabwe and providing assistance towards humanitarian needs.
The US is one of the top donors in Zimbabwe’s critical health and humanitarian interventions and has provided over US$20 million towards Covid-19 mitigation efforts and more on other services over the years.
Amb Nichols also rallied US businesses in Zimbabwe to engage with the Government on their own and advocate for desired improvements in the business climate.
He said the first-ever trade mission programme was one of the “most concrete” examples on the importance the US Government places in providing commercial services to American companies in the country.
The US Ambassador further challenged US firms to capitalise on potential matches in their business-to-business meetings with Zimbabwean counterparts to reap higher gains.