South African President Jacob Zuma is expected in the country next week for the inaugural meeting of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) which aims to deepen economic and bilateral relations between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said here Wednesday.

The Ministry said in a statement that the meeting would be jointly chaired by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and President Zuma, who is expected to be accompanied by eight Ministers on his visit to Zimbabwe.

"On 3 November 2016, Zimbabwe hosts the inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission, (BNC) between Zimbabwe and South Africa at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. It will be preceded by a Ministerial meeting on the 2nd of October to 1 November 2016," it said.

The BNC was established in 2015, following the signing of an agreement by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two neighbouring countries during President Mugabe's State visit to South Africa.

The Commission is aimed at seeking ways and means of promoting co-operation in the various sectors of the economy and also to facilitate contact between the public and private sectors of the two countries.

"The two countries will discuss a wide range of issues reflecting the depth and intensity of their relations. The issues include those related to trade, investment, energy, tourism, water and health as well as regional and global developments," the statement said. "It is also expected that a number of agreements will be signed at the conclusion of the meeting."

South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner but trade has largely been skewed towards the Rainbow Nation as manufacturers there are able to export cheaper and enjoy higher production volumes than their northern counterparts.

In 2014, South African exports to Zimbabwe amounted to 24.8 billion Rand (about 1.786 billion US dollars), while Zimbabwean exports to South Africa, which mainly consist of unfinished products including platinum and tobacco, reached 2.0 billion Rand only.

Over the past few years, Zimbabwean companies have received funding from financial institutions in South Africa, including the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), which has also financed infrastructure development in Zimbabwe, including road rehabilitation projects.

Trade analysts have predicted that Zimbabwe stood to gain economically by creating stronger business synergies with South Africa, which is a member of the BRICS group of countries which comprises of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.