Switzerland is keen to boost economic ties with Zimbabwe and has prioritised Harare for cooperation this year, Swiss Ambassador to Zimbabwe Niculin Jager said when he paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa at State House yesterday.
Ambassador Jager said Zimbabwe and Switzerland have cordial bilateral relations dating back to the attainment of the country’s independence.
“We had an in-depth engagement with His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) on bilateral relations between Switzerland and Zimbabwe and shaping the agenda for the 42nd year and what is coming in the future,” he said.
“As you know, Switzerland is one of the largest investors in Zimbabwe so we had a discussion on the economy and investments and the overall situation in the region and in the country and we also talked about re-adjusting our bilateral cooperation and development agency. Zimbabwe is one of the priority countries for our bilateral cooperation this year.”
Ambassador Jager said Switzerland was looking at strengthening ties with Zimbabwe especially in the agricultural field.
“We are looking at many areas and one of them is agriculture. As you know, we have a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between Switzerland and Zimbabwe, which will allow us, through its implementation, to better the investment climate
“The second point is youth. We believe youth and agriculture can be combined as agriculture can provide a lot of jobs as well as in industry because Switzerland is a strong player in industry in Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Jager.
In 2017, Switzerland and Zimbabwe signed an International Cooperation Agreement on Humanitarian Aid and Technical and Financial Cooperation.
The agreement provides for strengthened cooperation between Switzerland and Zimbabwe for the realisation of humanitarian, technical and financial assistance projects that contributes to sustainable poverty alleviation, democratic development, the promotion of peace and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Switzerland has been supportive of Zimbabwe’s intentions to clear its debt arrears and normalise relations with the international financial institutions, so it can accelerate efforts to revive and grow the economy and improve investment in the social sectors.
Nestle, one of the leading Swiss companies operating in Zimbabwe, has over the years been expanding its operations in the country including a US$2,5 million investment in cereal production and support for over 2 000 coffee farmers.
At its peak, Zimbabwe used to produce 15 000 tonnes of coffee per year but out has declined in recent years owing to a number of challenges. This year, Nestle plans to export products worth over US$10 million to countries such as Botswana, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia.