Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe has clinched major business deals with Japanese firms that are expected to bring Foreign Direct Investment here in the next few months.
A trade delegation that went to Japan last week signed the deals which should open a new chapter in trade and business relations between the two countries.
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The Japanese firms which the delegation clinched the deals with cannot be named yet owing to non-disclosure agreements that were signed.
It is understood that some local companies entered into a partnership with Japanese automobile makers that would see over 500 new and reconditioned vehicles as well as 10 000 tractors being shipped here for sale to locals on credit in the next six months.
The deals come hard on the heels of mega deals Zimbabwe signed with China in August 2014 following President Mugabe’s visit to the Asian country.
One of the companies will also set up a plant in the country to recondition vehicles and tractors. As part of the skills transfer, at least 40 Zimbabweans would be sent to Japan to get training on how to make and re-condition various models of the vehicles.
Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa, who led the delegation yesterday said most of the deals signed were at an advanced stage and most companies that participated were now seeking Government recommendation to proceed.
“The visit is built on the foundation laid by President Robert Mugabe during his visit to Japan in March. The Japanese were more than willing to engage. They knew very little about Zimbabwe and we told them that we are a peaceful people.
“We told them that the challenges faced by our country presented opportunities for serious investors. They wanted to know our investment climate, monetary laws, remittances, capital and dividends. They also wanted to know about our indigenisation laws and we told them it was almost similar to theirs,” she said.
She said the Japanese were also keen to know information on bond notes and after an explanation was given they were satisfied.
Deputy Minister Mabuwa said she had the opportunity to meet officials from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) who were still keen to fund the Zimbabwe/South Africa One Stop Border Post at the gathering where SADC countries interacted with over 300 Japanese companies in Tokyo.
Mrs Smelly Dube who was part of the delegation, said their trip to Japan was successful and thanked President Mugabe for paving the way for them.
“We met various business people in Japan but our aim was to explore the motor vehicle manufacturing industry and we managed to strike successful deals with one of the car manufacturers.
“Our economy is based on agriculture and therefore we will be bringing new and second hand tractors for cheap prices to our people as a way to boost productivity,” she said.
Mrs Dube said many Zimbabweans were struggling to buy cars through BeFoward that’s why they decided to engage the Japanese so that they could deal directly with the car manufacturers and get brand new cars which are durable.
She said they have since partnered with a local bank so that people could have access to loans to purchase the cars.
“We will be offering a system whereby our customers will be paying 50 percent for the cars and pay the remaining balance by way of instalments.”
She said they were using their own money to buy the cars.
“We have seen that the Japanese are strong and serious people to do business with,” she said.
She said they were also planning to send 40 students to Japan to go and learn how to make and re-condition the vehicles.
Harare South MP Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe who was also part of the delegation, said they also engaged construction companies that were involved in infrastructure projects with a view to lure them to invest in the country.
“We also had fruitful discussions with a car manufacturer, which is a subsidiary of Toyota in a bid to grand Zimbabweans access to original and durable cars which are long lasting.
“We are aiming at bringing fresh deals and fresh capital into the country for the betterment of our economy,” he said.
Cde Mashayamombe said they were fully aware that the country was currently facing cash crises that’s why they would be selling the cars by way of instalments.
During his visit to Japan in March President Mugabe told Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Zimbabwe’s doors were open to Japanese investors, adding that the Asian economic giant could look forward to a “mutually rewarding relationship with us”.
After the meeting between the leaders, Japan announced a development package worth $5,3 million for the nation to buy equipment for road rehabilitation.