HARARE, May 21 — A visiting Chinese business delegation says companies from the Asian country are increasingly targeting Zimbabwe to set up their operations as its investment climate is continuously improving.

The 25-member Chinese delegation arrived in the country on Monday to scout for investment opportunities.
Led by the head of the Chinese Council for Promoting South-South Co-operation (CCPSSC), Lu Xinhua, it includes representatives of 10 companies involved in sectors such as health, education, textile, investment promotion and construction.

Lu told a business forum held here Wednesday in onjunction with the visit that Chinese firms were increasingly expanding their operations to developing countries such as Zimbabwe as the market in the Asian country was now saturated.

“In recent years, more and more Chinese companies are investing in Zimbabwe,” Lu said. “Your policies are getting more attractive and open and the investment environment is always improving and this has attracted an increasing number of foreign investors.”

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin echoed Lu’s sentiments, adding that Zimbabwe was in 2013 the number one African destination for Chinese investment. While trade between the two countries amounted to over 1.2 billion US dollars, Chinese investment in Zimbabwe amounted to more than 600 million USD.

Established last year with the backing of the Chinese government, the council, is made up of former diplomats and corporations. Lu said its main role was to encourage Chinese companies to explore and invest in overseas markets.

He called for the establishment of an information sharing platform on investment opportunities between the Zimbabwean government and the CCPSSC.

Zimbabwe’s Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister, Simon Khaya Moyo, told the delegation that Zimbabwe was open for investment and was implementing a raft of new measures to make the economy more attractive to investors.

“We are working on improving the operations of our One Stop Investment Centre at the Zimbabwe Investment Centre to be a truly one-stop investment centre,” the minister said. “Our aim is to dramatically reduce the number of days it takes to process investments.”

Initial targets under the programme are to process investments within a week.

Khaya Moyo said the government was at an advanced stage of setting up Special Economic Zones in its bid to industrialise as well as encourage value addition and beneficiation in the economy. “We are also reviewing our incentives (for investors) to make them competitive,” he said.

“We want to remove all bottlenecks and make Zimbabwe the best investment destination in the world.”