South Africa and Zimbabwe are to increase cooperation in the development of small businesses in both countries through skills transfer, knowledge sharing and increased trade and investment missions, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.


This follows a meeting between South African Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe and Zimbabwe Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Minister Sthembiso Nyoni in Harare on Tuesday.


According to the DTI, the two ministers agreed to push ahead with implementing an agreement on small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development cooperation that was signed last year.


As part the agreement, Thabethe said South Africa’s Small Enterprise Development Agency would help the Zimbabwean government develop a small business incubation strategy.


Thabethe is currently leading a delegation of South African business people on a five-day trade and investment mission in Harare and Bulawayo.


Speaking at a business seminar in Harare on Monday, Thabethe said that economic cooperation with Zimbabwe would contribute significantly to growth and development in the southern African region.


South Africa’s trade and investment agenda was focused on supporting Africa’s economic integration, Thabethe said, adding that infrastructure development was key to achieving this objective.


Zimbabwe’s Deputy Finance and Economic Development Minister Samuel Undeng, also speaking at Monday’s seminar, noted that South African and Zimbabwe had signed a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement in 2009 that protected investors from either country from unilateral sequestration.


According to the DTI, foreign direct investment (FDI) by South African companies in Zimbabwe amounted to approximately US$619-million between 2003 and 2012, while FDI from Zimbabwe to South Africa amounted to approximately $154-million.


SAinfo reporter