THE United Kingdom is keen on increasing cooperation and forging closer ties with Zimbabwe for the mutual benefit of both countries, Tewkesbury Town member of parliament and Westminster Africa Business Group chairman, Mr Laurence Robertson, has said.
The British politician, who is heading a Westminster Africa Business Group delegation which is currently in the country, yesterday met President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare and expressed the UK’s commitment to increasing trade with Zimbabwe, especially after Brexit (withdrawal of the UK from the European Union).
In an interview after the closed door meeting, Mr Robertson, a member of the ruling Conservative Party in the UK, said President Mnangagwa had extended a warm welcome to them, which consequently laid the foundation for fruitful cooperation between Harare and London going forward.
He said under the aegis of the Westminster Africa Business Group, the UK was looking to tap into Zimbabwe’s vast trade potential.
“I do not think we have always been a world trading nation but since Brexit, since we left the European Union, I think there has been a greater emphasis on the need to look across the world in trade, increase our trade, increase our share of the trade across the world and we are doing this in a number of countries but we are very pleased to be doing this in Zimbabwe.
“The Westminster Africa Business Group exists to promote trade between the African continent and the UK and also uses politics to promote that trade.
“So, we are here to pay a courtesy call on the President and a number of other ministers with a view to looking at how we can increase trade, cooperation and friendship between our two countries,” he said.
The Tory MP said now that the die had been cast, he would relay his findings to the relevant ministers back in the UK about the plethora of opportunities that exist in Zimbabwe.
“It’s been a very short visit but a very good visit, we have been welcomed very warmly and the words that have been used are very encouraging. So it is really good to be here. It is actually my first visit to Zimbabwe, but it will not be my last,” he said.
Going forward, Mr Robertson said, cooperation would not just be for the UK’s benefit but also for Zimbabwe’s profit.
He said countries like Zimbabwe are ambitious and the UK is committed to lending a hand in ensuring their aspirations are realised.
“Trade is very much a two-way thing. As you know we have initiated a favoured trading arrangement with a number of countries across the world including in Africa and here in Zimbabwe. Not only do we want to benefit from that trade ourselves but we want to enable other countries that are not quite as developed as ours but have got very great ambitions to be so. We want to help them to achieve those goals so that is part of it as well,” Mr Robertson said.
President Mnangagwa has continued to reiterate that Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none and that the country is committed to increasing cooperation with other countries in the comity of nations.
The visit by the British delegation is the latest testament that the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement drive has been a game changer for Zimbabwe’s investment and trade prospects. – Herald