'EU summit snub spooks investors'

'EU summit snub spooks investors'
Published: 02 April 2014
Zimbabwe's refusal to attend the on-going European Union (EU)-Africa summit reveals its "bad boy" attitude and will further dampen investor confidence, economists say.

They say the boycott could scuttle efforts made by the business community for the restoration of full economic and commercial relations between EU and Zimbabwe.

Local business leaders and investors - through the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries - recently visited the continent to seek bail out packages and lure foreign direct investment.

Zimbabwe is not participating in the conference after President Robert Mugabe decided to boycott because the First Lady, Grace, was denied a visa to enter Europe. "Nobody is going to take us seriously," said John Robertson, an economist.

"Over the years the country has come out with nothing out of these forums because there is no change of attitude in our leadership," he said, adding that "unless there is a change of attitude as well as the investment climate, Zimbabwe remains a bad investment option." Robertson said Zimbabwe desperately needed attention, but questioned if the country had what it took to deserve it.

"Even our own citizens are trying to leave for better countries. We really need to find solutions such as improving conditions for foreign investment, good governance and address economic fundamentals.

"Right now we have already done enough damage to really earn credit from investors," he said. Independent economist Takunda Mugaga also said Zimbabwe stood to lose out more than the European bloc despite not getting much over the years because of restrictive measures imposed on the country's regime.

"The country could have done more to re-engage its business community with their European counterparts.

"We really need to find each other in this global village, we cannot survive in isolation," he said.

Mugaga said the summit could have provided an opportunity for the country's leadership to explain the position of its economy and also raise the profile of doing business in Zimbabwe.

The business delegation to European countries in January this year was to re-establish links and integrate with regional global value chains as part of restoring its competitiveness

This comes as the level of trade between EU and Zimbabwe underscores the significance of the commercial and economic relations.

The EU is Zimbabwe's second largest trading partner with a total trade of $942 million in 2012, under which the southern African country exported goods valued at $620 million and had imports of $322 million.

The union and its member countries account for over 55 percent of Zimbabwe's public external debt.
- dailynews


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