Union Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma yesterday met the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, during his visit to Harare for the India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting.
Sharma briefed the Zimbabwean Prime Minister on the fruitful discussions held earlier yesterday between the two sides in the JTC meeting. He informed the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe that India has offered various capacity building programmes, including scholarships and dedicated courses in bamboo craft development and handicrafts, that Lines of Credit (LOC) proposals worth USD 400 million from the Zimbabwean side will be considered and Zimbabwe could also avail the 'Buyers Credit Scheme' and the 'pilot 2 percent interest subvention scheme' for projects in Zimbabwe.
Sharma agreed to the request of Tsvangirai for providing assistance in revival of its textile industry and in developing its nascent diamond industry.
The India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting was co-chaired by Sharma and the Prof. Welshman Ncube, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe.
During the JTC meeting, the two sides reviewed the bilateral trade and investment relations and held discussions on the following areas of cooperation: textiles sector, agro/food processing sector, gems and jewellery, industrial cluster initiatives, Lines of Credit, capacity building programmes, establishing of commodity exchange in Zimbabwe.
During the meeting, both the Ministers emphasized that the present levels of bilateral trade and investment were much below the potential.
In the year 2012, the India-Zimbabwe bilateral trade was USD 166 million, with balance of trade heavily in favour of India.
The Zimbabwean Minister sought investments and technical assistance from India to enable his nation in revival of its manufacturing sector, and to achieve greater value addition and beneficiation of natural resources, which will also enable Zimbabwe to increase the value of its exports.
The Zimbabwean side also presented to the Indian side the potential joint venture investment projects from the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe for consideration of the Indian industry. InvestIndia portal launched during the 2nd India-Africa Forum Summit could play a leading role in identifying the potential investors. It was noted that India has already invested in various sectors in Zimbabwe notably in mining, pharmaceuticals and agro-processing. On being apprised of the difficulties being faced by the Indian businessmen in obtaining Business Visa for Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean Minister assured that they will be addressing the issue expeditiously.
In his address during the JTC meeting, Sharma announced that India had approved a Line of Credit (LOC) worth USD 28.6 million for Up-gradation of Deka Pumping Station and the River Water Intake System in Zimbabwe. Further, India is actively considering two more LOC proposals received from Zimbabwe, namely, the Rehabilitation of Small Thermal Power Stations and the Gairezi Hydro Electric Project, and Bulawayo Power Station Upgrade Project. He mentioned that India has been engaged in capacity building and human resource development efforts in Zimbabwe and is setting up a Food Testing Laboratory, a Rural Technology Park and a Vocational Training Centre in Zimbabwe under the India-Africa Forum Summit decisions. India has also set up three computer learning stations in Zimbabwe for children in high-density areas. The number of annual scholarships to Zimbabwe under India's ITEC programme is now more than 250.
Sharma also informed that the National Institute of Design (NID) of India has successfully undertaken the Training Programme on Design Intervention for the Basketry Craft for Improvement of rural Women Artisans in Zimbabwe. The products made by the Zimbabwean crafts women were successfully showcased at an exhibition in New Delhi earlier this month, which evoked a positive response from the buyers.
During the JTC meeting, the Indian side agreed to provide assistance to Zimbabwe in the development of the four clusters identified under its Industrial Development Policy namely, diamond cluster, clothing and textiles, leather and footwear, and agro-processing.
The Zimbabwe side also acknowledged the role played by India in defending Zimbabwe's interests in trading in diamonds through the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.
The two countries designated Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and Hindustan Diamond Company Private Limited from India as the two nodal agencies for greater commercial cooperation between both countries in the diamond sector.
The two Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to consolidate the historical relationship between the two countries through partnership across various sectors, focusing on value addition and beneficiation of resources, capacity building, job creation and ensuring food and energy security for its people. (ANI)