ED, Putin poised to meet

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Tichaona Zin­doga Deputy Edi­tor

PRES­I­DENT Mnan­gagwa will meet the Pres­i­dent of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion Mr Vlad­mir Putin dur­ing his four-na­tion trip to Europe next week, The Her­ald can re­veal.

The Zim­bab­wean leader is sched­uled to visit Rus­sia, Be­larus, Azer­bai­jan and Kaza­khstan.

He will also at­tend the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum (WEF) sum­mit in Davos, Switzer­land, for the second year run­ning.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s high-pro­file meet­ing with Mr Putin will be a high point as Zim­babwe seeks to con­sol­i­date and so­lid­ify the en­gage­ment pro­cesses he has out­lined as the fo­cus of his for­eign policy un­der the Second Repub­lic.

Fur­ther, the tour will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to trans­form the ex­cel­lent po­lit­i­cal ties into mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial eco­nomic ties be­tween Zim­babwe and the re­spec­tive coun­tries.

In­for­ma­tion availed to this pa­per by the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade un­der­scores that the vis­its will pro­mote Zim­babwe’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests, im­age and in­flu­ence.

“The Pres­i­dent is work­ing hard to give our na­tion a pos­i­tive im­age to the out­side world that un­der­lines our quest to be part of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” reads a sum­mary brief of the tour. The Pres­i­dent will sell a

re­branded Zim­babwe and drum up ex­ter­nal sup­port for its “open for busi­ness” par­a­digm.

“The Pres­i­dent is cham­pi­oning the rap­proche­ment and reen­gage­ment with the West­ern world and In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions in order to nor­malise re­la­tions.

“The other main pri­or­ity of the Pres­i­dent and Gov­ern­ment is to at­tract FDI (For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment), pro­mote trade and sourc­ing of mar­kets for our prod­ucts, in­clud­ing pro­mot­ing the coun­try as a tourist des­ti­na­tion un­der the new mantra of Zim­babwe is open busi­ness,” For­eign Af­fairs said.

In­di­vid­ual coun­tries on Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s tour pro­vide dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties for Zim­babwe.

Rus­sia and Zim­babwe are already co­op­er­at­ing in the Dar­wen­dale Plat­inum Project.

The mar­quee project has un­der­gone Phase 1, which is the fea­si­bil­ity study, con­cluded ahead of sched­ule last year.

The next phase will see con­struc­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of the project.

And Pres­i­dents Mnan­gagwa and Putin will dis­cuss progress and speed­ing up the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa will ad­dress the lo­cal Cham­ber of Com­merce and high­light the in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties back home.

Zim­babwe and Rus­sia are co­op­er­at­ing in min­ing, trade ed­u­ca­tion and tourism and the for­mer is seeking to in­crease its trade and ex­ports to Rus­sia in com­modi­ties such as to­bacco, hand­i­crafts, cit­rus, flow­ers and veg­eta­bles.

Zim­babwe im­ports fer­tiliser chem­i­cals, ma­chin­ery, pa­per and plas­tics, vehicle and air­craft parts, elec­tri­cal and electronic equip­ment, rub­ber, iron and steel.

Tourism from Rus­sia is set to in­crease after Zim­babwe up­graded the visa regime for Rus­sia from Category C to Category B.

Rus­sia is con­tribut­ing to Zim­babwe’s man­power de­vel­op­ment through the pro­vi­sion of schol­ar­ships and this year in­creased schol­ar­ship of­fers to Zim­bab­wean learn­ers to 70.

The cor­dial re­la­tions be­tween Zim­babwe and Be­larus are set for a lift when Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa re­turns to the coun­try he toured as Vice Pres­i­dent in 2015.

Last year, Head of the Be­larus Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs Mr Vik­tor Sheiman de­liv­ered a spe­cial mes­sage to Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa con­grat­u­lat­ing him on the vic­tory in the just ended elections and invit­ing him to Be­larus.

Zim­babwe and Be­larus are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing grow­ing re­la­tions with the lat­ter pro­vid­ing min­ing equip­ment at Hwange Col­liery and Zim­babwe Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Com­pany which saw an in­crease in pro­duc­tions in both con­cerns.

The wto coun­tries are co­op­er­at­ing in the area of gold min­ing while in the en­ergy sec­tor – for which the two signed a mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment last year – fo­cus will be on hy­dro-en­ergy, meth­ane gas, so­lar en­ergy gen­er­a­tion and de­vel­op­ing the nascent oil in­dus­try.

Be­larus is also set to sup­ply trac­tors and spare parts.

Zim­babwe has op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­port to­bacco, cot­ton and min­er­als while the Euro­pean coun­try will sell more ma­chin­ery and equip­ment as well as potash.

Azer­bai­jan, a coun­try which Zim­babwe started diplo­matic re­la­tions only in Oc­to­ber 2008, has pro­posed two areas of co­op­er­a­tion, which Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa will tie dur­ing the visit.

Azer­bai­jan is in­ter­ested in co­op­er­a­tion in the areas of tax ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and will seek to tie an Agree­ment on the Pro­mo­tion and Re­cip­ro­cal Pro­tec­tion of In­vest­ments.

Cur­rently, trade be­tween the two coun­tries has been re­stricted to Zim­babwe’s to­bacco ex­ports but Azer­bai­jan has set sights on in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Zim­babwe’s min­ing, en­ergy and tourism sec­tors, on the back of its in­creased readi­ness to in­vest in Africa.

Azer­bai­jan, ac­cord­ing to in­di­ci­a­tions, has sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased its cap­i­tal in­vest­ments abroad in­volv­ing both state run and pri­vate com­pa­nies.

Zim­babwe will seek to un­lock op­por­tu­ni­ties in Kaza­khstan, a coun­try noted

for its wealth of min­eral re­sources that it has man­aged to ex­ploit to the ben­e­fit of its econ­omy.

Zim­babwe would like to ex­port cit­rus fruit, cof­fee, tea and to­bacco to Kaza­khstan while it could in turn im­port agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery, pe­tro­leum prod­ucts, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als and tex­tiles.

The Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Trade says dur­ing the visit to As­tana, the two coun­tries will dis­cuss Kaza­khstan, co­op­er­a­tion in the fol­low­ing fields: In­dus­try — fer­tiliser and petrol chem­i­cals; Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing.

As a sweet­ener, Kaza­khstan in­tends to of­fer schol­ar­ships in the fields of medicine, en­gi­neer­ing, and agri­cul­ture for Zim­bab­wean stu­dents.

Pres­i­dent Putin

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa

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