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Vice President’s Address at the India-Zimbabwe Business Forum (November 03, 2018)

November 03, 2018

Your Excellency, Kembo Mohadi

Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Distinguished Ministers from Zimbabwe and India, Members of Parliament, Captains of Industry from Zimbabwe and India, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening, Namaskar, I am delighted to address the Zimbabwe-India Business Forum. I am happy to see the enthusiastic participation from both sides in this event.

I commend the work of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce supported by Chambers of Zimbabwe National Chambers of Commerce (ZNCC), Zimbabwe Industry (CZI), Zimbabwe Chambers of Small and Medium Enterprises (ZCMSE) and the Zimbabwe-India Chambers of Commerce (ZICC) which have worked hard to get a large delegation to engage with their Indian counterparts. I understand, from India, that a large number of companies are participating in the event.

Today morning, I had an excellent meeting with the President of Zimbabwe who was very optimistic that this "first high level Indian visit to Zimbabwe in two decades”is a sign of the ever improving relations between two of the world’s largest economies and will have significant benefits for people of both countries. India and Zimbabwe have shared very cordial and warm relationship that dates back to the 17th century when we were trading in metals, minerals and textiles. While our political relations have progressed well in modern times based on shared values of democracy and the rule of law, I must say, our economic ties have not fully reflected their immense potential. It is time we work harder to progress together and forge partnerships for a mutually beneficial brighter future.

Excellency Vice President Kembo Mohadi and I in our meeting today committed ourselves to write a new chapter in our economic relations, and I am sure we will have your committed support in this common endeavour.

There are natural synergies and complementarities between the two economies and we need to tap them for our mutual benefit. Zimbabwean companies can take advantage of the current high growth trajectory of the Indian economy.

Indian companies could form partnerships in Zimbabwe both for the domestic economy and for the wider Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa(COMESA). The key areas with potential for two-way trade and investment engagement include mining, equipments’ manufacture, information and communication technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food processing, auto components, medical devices, defence production, infrastructure and tourism sectors.

Small and Medium Enterprises sector is key to India’s economy. Over the last few decades, we have made significant progress and we are continuously making further improvements. You would be happy to know the pace-setter initiative announced by PM Modi ji i.e. "MSME Support & Outreach Program”. As Zimbabwe’s economy is also largely based on SME sector, you can benefit from India’s experience.

I am happy that all these sectors are well represented in this hall. In several areas, Indian companies have already established their presence in Zimbabwe.

Our bilateral trade stands at just over US dollars 230 million and investment at US dollars 500 million. This certainly is far below the potential.

I am confident that a lot more can be done together if we identify the core strengths and possible pathways for collaboration. I am certain your deliberations today would help us to identify priorities for future.

Friends,

India, one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, with a current growth rate of 8.2%, is on course to become a 5 trillion economy by 2025. The India story, as it is unfolding today, is a promising one.

India has recently become the 6th largest economy in the world with a GDP of US dollars 2.6 trillion. The IMF has estimated that India will grow at 7.8% in 2019.

An important corollary of the steady economic progress is the widening of opportunities for investment and trade.

India is moving fast forward to transform itself into a modern 21st century inclusive economy. Towards this end, our Government has taken a number of measures.

An ambitious plan to build next-generation infrastructure including 100 Smart Cities, 10 green-field airports, 7 high-speed train corridors, 5 major ports, highways and nation-wide broadband connectivity linking our villages and urban areas is underway.

Nearly 10 thousand kilometres of national highways were built during the last one year. That is an average of 27 kilometresper day. 111 rivers have been identified as National Waterways and we are modernizing our railways. New metros in the urban centres and dedicated freight corridors are being built. We have set a target to produce 175 Gigawatt of clean, renewable energy by 2022.

To boost the manufacturing sector, India has embarked on the "Make in India programme”. A host of path breaking reforms have been initiated, including the transformational tax reform. The introduction of Goods and Service Tax is a major step to have seamless and efficient national market. This will make it easier for businesses to establish and grow in India.

Dear friends,

The results are now clear to an objective viewer. Let me quote the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2019’ report published a couple of days ago which said, "India, which is a top improver for a second consecutive year, implemented six reforms in the past year and advanced to 77th place in the global ranking. India is now the region’s top-ranked economy…. Starting a business was made easier through consolidation of multiple application forms and introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST).”

India is changing rapidly. The business environment is changing for the better. The archaic regulations are being dismantled. Seamless processes are being introduced.

We have a whole new set of opportunities that are opening up. There can’t be a better time than now to invest in India.

India has taken a major leap towards financial inclusion by encouraging 330 million persons to open bank accounts. Tax base has widened by 26% in the last one year with nearly 68 million tax payers paying taxes. We have an ambitious agenda to make India a $ 5 trillion economy by 2025.

Our business-friendly policies have placed India among the top foreign direct investment destinations globally, having received more than US dollars 60 billion Foreign Direct Investment in 2016-17.

Friends,

Traditionally strong in the IT sector, India has the largest pool of digital talent in the world and is the largest ICT sourcing destination. Zimbabwe human capital is the best in the region. Leveraging on this, there is immense potential for our companies to come together to collaborate in artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics and nano-technology.

India and Zimbabwe have proven strengths in science & technology. Last year we successfully launched 104 satellites into the orbit from a single launch vehicle, the first of its kind in the world. We now look forward to launch our first manned space mission – Gagan-yan. Business to Business collaboration in high-technology, energy and space fields holds tremendous prospects for the two sides.

There are several opportunities to be tapped in the agriculture, mining, health, education, hospitality, infrastructure and SME sectors. Today’s signing of several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on various sectors is a reflection of how business houses of the two countries have decided to seriously unlock these opportunities.

Education and skill development are focused areas where there is scope to train each others’ students and professionals to high standards at modest cost, especially in technical courses, ICT and medicine. This will lead to new jobs and opportunities for our people. Further, there is significant potential for joint ventures and business tie-ups in the pharma and healthcare sectors. Lot more mutually beneficial businesses await to be transacted.

Let me also underscore the vast potential of cooperation in the field of agriculture and food processing.

Friends,

We are two democracies who are committed to the overall well-being and prosperity of our people. We have a whole lot of existing and emerging opportunities for growing together.

I hope today’s Business Forum will be a major step forward to expand our economic ties and establish new ventures that will build on our strengths and answer our needs.

I wish you a very productive discussion and a continuing engagement.

Thank you.

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