|Wikileaks:||View 02HARARE1385 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||EINV KTDB EFIN ETRD ECON EIND ZI|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 HARARE 001385 SIPDIS STATE FOR EB/IFD/OIA, AF/S, AF/EPS USDOC FOR 4510 ERIC HENDERSON STATE PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER STATE PASS NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAI FRAZIER LONDON FOR CGURNEY PARIS FOR NEARY TREASURY FOR OASIA/ED BARBER AND C. WALKER STATE PASS EXIM/MLHALEY, TDA/JRICHTER/JMNEWELL, OPIC/RNEHRA E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EINV, KTDB, EFIN, ETRD, ECON, EIND, ZI SUBJECT: 2002 INVESTMENT CLIMATE STATEMENT FOR ZIMBABWE REF: STATE 88106 A. Zimbabwe's Investment Policies and Practices Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) officials have generally recognized that foreign investment is needed to bring in necessary capital, technology and skills to create the jobs and opportunity that its available workforce desperately needs. However, over the last three years the investment and operating climate in Zimbabwe has substantially worsened. Potential investors need to assess carefully this tougher and more hostile environment, and to also factor in and plan for the government's goals for indigenization (black economic empowerment), privatization, and land reform/resettlement. Food shortages, caused primarily by government policies and actions and exacerbated by a regional drought, are set to grow more severe and will effect all sectors of the economy and populace. The recent trend of the isolation of Zimbabwe, in terms of bilateral relations and acceptable policies, will continue and will make doing business more difficult. The increasingly harsh and one-sided political environment, exacerbated by a severely declining economy, has contributed to great uncertainty about government policies affecting the country's near-term outlook and future. Government rhetoric and actions over the past several years have caused substantial damage to Zimbabwe's image as a potential investment destination, and the absence of clear indications on what steps the government will take to halt and reverse the country's severe economic slide makes assessment and planning very difficult. For example, in the latest Africa Competitiveness Report by the Davos, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum, Zimbabwe is ranked 23 out of 24 countries surveyed. The main reasons for the low ranking are poor government policies vis--vis business and investment, political violence, price controls, asset seizure without compensation and other non-open market practices. We urge potential or interested investors to contact the Economic/Commercial section of the Embassy for our assistance and latest information. In the first decade following Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the GOZ was highly suspicious of western investors. Investment proposals required a long and detailed evaluation process to determine whether they were a "good fit" with Zimbabwe's developmental needs. During this same period, Zimbabwe's economy was characterized by a very high level of central state planning and control, based on the Marxist model. That situation improved after 1991, when the government embarked on a market opening effort and an Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) supported by the World Bank and the IMF. In late 1992, the Zimbabwe Parliament promulgated the Investment Centre Act that provided a statutory basis for the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC), a one-stop shop ("mitigating the bureaucratic maze" in its own words), that is often the first port of call for all potential investors. Reviews of ZIC's utility and helpfulness by potential foreign investors are mixed, though generally positive, with the most common complaints being its opaqueness, slow speed and alleged occasional susceptibility to political influence. In 1995, government failure to meet targets for budget and civil service cuts and lack of progress in privatizing parastatals led the IMF to suspend funding for ESAP. In 1996, the government announced a second plan, the Zimbabwe Program for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST), running through the year 2000, aimed at further liberalizing and opening the economy to free-market forces. The results of this latest effort, which never received the support of the country's political leadership, have been very poor and far below expectations. A1. Openness to Foreign Investment In May 1989, the GOZ published guidelines for foreign investors in "The Promotion of Investment: Policy and Regulations." This document, updated in September 1991, is commonly called the "Investment Code" and has two dominant themes: it recognizes that foreign capital has played an important role in Zimbabwe's development, but it stresses that Zimbabweans should participate more fully in the country's economy. Accordingly, it notes that the GOZ prefers majority Zimbabwean participation in new investment projects and specifies that the degree of local ownership will be a prime criterion in the evaluation of investment proposals. The GOZ will consider majority or even 100 percent foreign ownership in high-priority projects, but will encourage arrangements for the eventual transfer of majority ownership to Zimbabwean interests. It is GOZ policy to take part in new investments by entering into joint ventures with private or domestic investors in strategic and basic infrastructure projects. However, given the government's cumulative deficit and resultant capital shortage, this type of activity is moribund at present. Outside of these areas, official GOZ participation will not be the general rule. Regarding privatization of Zimbabwe's parastatal companies, progress has been very slow in the decade since it was identified as a priority, with only about six organizations out of the 57 earmarked making the transition. Arguments about the allowable extent of foreign investment, retention amount for indigenization, pricing and means of offering have yet to be clearly or transparently resolved. Other criteria for evaluation of proposed new investments are: - Socio-economic benefits for rural areas - Transfer of technology and training opportunities for Zimbabweans - Generation of substantial employment opportunities - Balance of payment benefits through production of new exports - Access to scarce managerial resources and to foreign markets - Intensive use of local raw materials and processed inputs - Use of labor-intensive technology easily adaptable to Zimbabwe's needs - Substantial research and development expenditures In June 1994, the GOZ gazetted an amendment to its investment regulations that listed specific sectors of the economy, industries, and business categories that are "reserved for domestic investors." (This latter designation includes foreigners who have been granted residency status.) In agriculture and forestry, the following sectors are reserved: A) Primary production of food and cash crops B) Primary horticulture C) Game, wildlife ranching and livestock development D) Forestry E) Fishing and fish farming F) Poultry farming In transportation, the following sectors are reserved: A) Road haulage B) Passenger bus, taxis and car hire service of any kind C) Tourist transportation (excluding airlines) Other reserved businesses and industries are: A) Retail/wholesale trade, including distribution of locally produced goods B) Barber shops, hairdressing and beauty salons C) Commercial photography D) Employment agencies E) Estate agencies F) Valet services G) Armaments manufacture, marketing, and distribution H) Public water provision for domestic and industrial purposes I) Railways operations J) Grain mill products K) Bakery products L) Sugar products M) Tobacco packaging and grading (post-auction) N) Tobacco products Not all proposals for investment must be submitted to ZIC. One hundred percent locally-owned investments can be registered with the Registrar of Companies without going through ZIC. ZIC approval is required only when there is foreign participation, including: - Any proposal to establish a new business or project - Proposals to expand an existing business that have a foreign exchange component - Any proposal to acquire the whole or any portion of a Zimbabwean business by the purchase of assets (this requires exchange control approval). The ZIC is authorized to approve proposals involving any foreign investor in any business field. After approval of a project, if foreign staffing or management is desired, the Ministry of Home Affairs through the department of immigration is responsible for the issuance of work permits for expatriate staff. Both initial and renewal issuance of work permits has, at times, proved problematic for foreign companies and investors. ZIC's address and contact numbers are: Zimbabwe Investment Centre Investment House 109 Rotten Row P.O. Box 5950 Harare Telephone: 757931/4 Fax: (263) (4) 757937 E-mail: ZIC@harare.iafrica.com A2. Right to private ownership and establishment The GOZ, under President Mugabe's leadership, has a strong, residual desire to control as much of the economy as it can and only grudgingly implemented key areas of reform, and recently we are seeing a reversal of such reform. Privatization of state-owned companies, liberalization of foreign exchange policies, removal of price controls from food, staples and energy are areas where progress has been sub-optimal or negative. The local ownership requirement and the large areas of the economy where foreign investment is not allowed are other hindrances to business establishment and free cross-border capital and equity flows. A3. Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Since independence, Zimbabwe has applied international patent and trademark conventions. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Generally, the GOZ seeks to honor intellectual property ownership and rights, although there are serious doubts about its ability to enforce these obligations. The Embassy is not aware of any grievances over such issues, although pirating of videocassettes and computer software is common. Remittances for royalties, technical services and management fees have been suspended by many companies with overseas ties, due to the severe hard currency shortage experienced in Zimbabwe since year end 1999. A4. Performance Requirements/Incentives Several tax breaks are available for new investment by foreign and domestic companies. Capital expenditures on new factories, machinery and improvements are fully deductible and the GOZ waives import tax and surtax on capital equipment. Other incentives for investors include: - Investment allowance of 15 percent in the year of purchase of industrial and commercial buildings, staff housing and articles, implements and machinery - Investment allowance of 50 percent in the year of purchase for training, buildings and equipment - Twenty-five percent special initial allowance on cost of industrial buildings and commercial buildings and machinery in growth point areas is granted as a rebate for the first four years - Special mining lease provisions entitle the holder to specific incentive packages to be negotiated with the Ministry of Mines. Import duties (the reduction of which had been under discussion with both the IMF and the World Bank) and related taxes range up to more than 100 percent since their temporary hike following the Zimbabwe dollar's devaluation in 1999. The GOZ also has provided for the refund of sales taxes (15 percent) for capital goods purchased in Zimbabwe and intended for use in priority projects or investment in growth points. Any investment proposal that involves the employment of expatriates must present a strong case for doing so in order to obtain a work and residence permit. Normally, the maximum contract period for an expatriate is three years, but this will be extended to five years for expatriates with highly specialized skills. Expatriates who have prior permission from the Reserve Bank's exchange control department will be permitted to remit one-third of their salaries. There are no general performance requirements. Official policy, however, especially welcomes investment in enterprises that contribute to rural development, job creation, exports, use of local materials, and transfer of appropriate technology. There are no discriminatory import or export policies affecting foreign firms, although as noted earlier, the GOZ's approval criteria are heavily weighted toward export-oriented projects, especially from foreign investors. Joint ventures are very strongly encouraged. While official policy supports "the maximum Zimbabwean participation" in any new investment project, no specific requirements for local participation have been defined. However, experience has shown that 30 percent local participation is a widely accepted benchmark minimum. Foreign investors are expected to provide for domestic equity participation at or prior to startup, and can expect to be approached early on by a wide range of potential partners, with some government officials desiring shares at no cost. Companies are expected to make maximum use of Zimbabwean managerial and technical personnel. Subject to Reserve Bank approval, foreign companies are allowed to provide capital equipment as an equity contribution to a joint venture. The Government of Zimbabwe's policy calls for Government participation in new investments in "strategic" industries such as energy and mining. The terms of government participation will be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, the government's lack of funds (the cause of the dearth of new major investment projects), means that this policy has not been tested in practice for some time. At the urging of western donors, the IMF and the World Bank, the GOZ promulgated legislation establishing export processing zones (EPZ's) and appointed an EPZ authority in 1996. However, a trade performance statute requires eligible companies to export at least 80 percent of output, a requirement that has limited foreign investment in the new zones. Other benefits include a five-year tax holiday, duty-free importation of raw materials, no tax liability from capital gains arising from the sale of property forming part of the investment in designated processing zones, and duty- free importation of capital equipment for use in the EPZ. The newly-formed Revenue Authority (combining the formerly separate Departments of Customs, Excise and the Tax Bureau) continues to charge designated companies duties on exempted inputs and equipment. The EPZ authority approved over 15 projects in 2001. However, the economic slowdown, high inflation and interest rates, and the very uncertain outlook have slowed or halted movement on startup and completion. In the original legislation, the provisions of the Labor Relations Act (LRA) would not apply within the zones. Due to strong advocacy from the labor movement, the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare has entered into discussions with the Ministry of Justice to amend the act so that the LRA indeed would apply. A5. Transparency of the Regulatory System GOZ official policy is to encourage competition within the private sector, and the government is concerned about an "over-concentration" of market clout among only a few companies in several industries. At present, many bureaucratic functions in this still heavily controlled economy are less than fully transparent and can by no means be considered streamlined. Corruption within the regulatory system is increasingly worrisome. However, GOZ regulators generally perform their functions forthrightly, though slippage can be expected to increase. A6: Corruption According to anecdotal evidence and a survey conducted by Transparency International-Zimbabwe, corruption, already at high and chronic levels, is increasing within government. Many companies and the police do not have appropriate tools or skills for investigating and checking corruption, though the legislative and criminal law framework exists (for example, acceptance of bribes is a criminal offense). Several U.S. firms have protested problems involving major government tenders and the lack of transparency in the government tender board's management of the cases. Tenders in the telecommunications, power, defense and aviation sectors have been particularly notorious. Cases involving high or prominent ruling party or government officials usually do not reach court, regardless of the magnitude or egregiousness of the offense. In the second quarter of 2000, Parliament adopted a constitutional amendment that provides for the creation of an anti-corruption commission, however, to date it has not been funded or staffed. The Zimbabwe Republic Police have historically been generally well disciplined, but do not give the stamping out of corruption any special priority. Recent instances of massive corruption show that in many government entities, especially the parastatals, corrupt practices are widespread. The government's electioneering tactics over the last two years as well as the seizure and theft from commercial farms has caused a widespread dissolution of respect for the rule of law, and this trend looks set to continue in the near term. Unless such practices are aggressively checked, Zimbabwe's investment and business climate will suffer further serious damage. A7. Labor As noted elsewhere in this report, there is a growing shortage of professional, technical and service skills in the workforce, caused primarily by emigration brought about by declining living standards and the mutually reinforcing political and economic crises. This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe still has one of the best-educated labor forces in Africa. Shrinkage of the economy in recent years, and the commercial farm invasions in the same period have caused formal sector employment to drop fairly precipitously. With at least 300,000 secondary school graduates or dropouts entering the job market every year, the unemployment rate has been steadily rising, and now stands at a minimum of 65 or 70 percent. The reduced business activity, declining profitability of companies and surplus labor have caused wage increases to lag behind inflation. As a consequence, disposable incomes and standards of living have fallen for the majority of the formally employed. Increasingly severe food shortages will effect all Zimbabweans, and urban wage earners will face special challenges in securing adequate food supplies. The country's HIV/AIDS epidemic (over one in four adult Zimbabweans are HIV positive) also is taking a heavy toll on the workforce, with the worst effects of the disease still to come. For example, the AIDS mortality rate is currently estimated at over 2000 deaths/week, or 100,000 per year, and will climb sharply in coming years. Some businesses are trying to mitigate the impact through workplace HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, but such actions will not cause a change in the near-term impacts of the epidemic. The GOZ largely adheres to International Labor Organization conventions protecting worker rights. The 1985 Labor Relations Act sets strict standards for occupational health and safety, but enforcement is fairly lax and not consistent throughout the industrial sectors. In addition, the GOZ sets a maximum workweek and minimum wage. The workweek averages 40 hours, but can go as high as 60. The law mandates a 24-hour rest period each week. Although minimum wages are ostensibly set by the government along sectoral lines, in practice there is currently no common policy. Due to the hyper-inflationary situation, each sector negotiates wages that it can afford to pay. Some workers are also provided allowances and expenses for food, transportation, and housing. As already noted, wage increases have lagged considerably behind the rate of inflation (currently exceeding 100%), causing a serious drop in disposable income and purchasing power. One of the most sobering labor developments concerns the displacement of commercial farm workers. Due to the disruptions on commercial farms, there are currently over 300,000 displaced agricultural workers in Zimbabwe. In addition to having no work and no income, many of these laborers - and their families - now have no home. The ripple affect of this displacement on the economy will continue to be felt for years, as will the accompanying loss in agricultural production. Labor relations have become particularly fractious between labor and government in Zimbabwe since 1997, as economic conditions in the country have deteriorated. They are less so between labor and management. Workers negotiate wages and other benefits with employers during the annual collective bargaining season, which runs from approximately May to July each year. A National Employment Council (NEC) in each industry, comprising representatives from labor, business, and government, is the vehicle through which the collective bargaining takes place. In addition, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country's umbrella labor organization, consisting of 35 member unions and approximately 270,000 members, is the traditional advocate for workers to both business and government. Through both the NEC and the ZCTU, workers in all sectors have demanded repeated salary increases in 2001 and 2002 to compensate for the high inflation and increased cost of living, in some cases striking until their demands were addressed. In almost all industries, employers have approved more than one salary hike per year in response to the inflation rate. Although the GOZ still maintains an historically paternalistic attitude toward labor, reserving the right to intervene in issues of concern in the workplace, the high profile and politicization of the ZCTU in recent years has forced government to attempt to claw back a greater deal of control over workers. Both before and since the recent presidential elections, the government has threatened the ZCTU with elimination, and has taken steps to marginalize the traditional unions and also the formal labor dispute resolution mechanism. Notably, in 2000, "war vet" groups - using tactics similar to those adopted in the farm invasions - invaded a limited number of factories and workplaces, usually claiming to represent the interests of terminated or disciplined workers. Employing intimidation, violence and sometimes kidnapping the efforts, directed mainly at mostly white management, were in most cases thinly veiled extortion attempts. Since that time, the GOZ has capitalized on the "successes" of the war vets in their labor-problem- solving role by creating the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), as an alternative umbrella organization that is challenging the ZCTU's historic control over organized labor. Deemed by no one outside of government or the government-controlled media as a legitimate labor organization, the ZFTU is still being promoted by the GOZ as the true, indigenous and nationalist umbrella labor organ. The GOZ has repeatedly backed attempts by the ZFTU to persuade workers - often utilizing threats, coercion, harassment, and outright force - to shift their allegiance and their union dues from the ZCTU to the ZFTU. At the time of this report the struggle for primacy between the two organizations goes on, although the ZCTU still remains the "official" and internationally recognized voice of organized labor in Zimbabwe. A8. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment Zimbabwe's stock market (about 65 companies listed) is small, trading is quite thin, and the public stock float of many of the smaller companies is closely held. In September 1996, the GOZ opened the stock and money markets to limited foreign portfolio investment. Since then, a maximum of 40 percent of any locally listed company can be foreign-owned with a single investor acquiring a maximum of 10 percent of the shares on offer. Foreign participation in the bond market is restricted to the primary market and only 35 percent of invested capital may be placed in bonds. The major opportunity for foreign investors is in the equity market. New portfolio investment in Zimbabwe has been very limited in recent quarters as the country's macro- economic outlook and fundamentals continue to decline. Zimbabwe's financial sector is, relative to the business base and in comparison to all its neighbors but for South Africa, quite large and well developed. An impressive variety of financial instruments are traded, though thinly, including debentures, private sector bonds, bankers acceptances, treasury bills, municipal and utility bonds. Two major international commercial banks and a number of regional and domestic banks operate with over 200 branches total. The merchant banks are quite sophisticated and agile. The well-publicized failure of a number of financial institutions, primarily due to fraud and inept management, has raised concern over the oversight capability of the Reserve Bank and the financial soundness of a number of the smaller players. The government's action to peg the exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar in January 1999 (halting devaluation) and the introduction of price controls on many basic goods has raised concern about a return to the centrally controlled economy of the 1980s. Revised banking regulations have been criticized for reducing the independence of the central bank in carrying out its monetary policies. While the RBZ is a major force in setting interest rates (through reserve requirements, T-Bill issuance and the discount rate), rates up until 2001 had been primarily market driven. In addition, a parallel market for hard currency at non- official rates has become established. There have been no instances of hostile takeovers within the financial sector. One sign of Zimbabwe's perilous economic state is a very low savings base, now estimated at only 6 percent of GDP, down from 9 percent last year. This implies very poor domestic investment in the future, and deserves to be noted. A9. Conversion Transfer Policies Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an acute hard currency shortage that is more than two years old and, among other things has caused fuel shortages, default on sovereign debt, shortages of imported goods and components, and a sharp decline in industrial, agricultural and mining operations. In 1991 under the ESAP program, the GOZ began to liberalize dividend remittability above the prior 25 percent cap. Advantage was given first to new, post-independence investors and especially to those with an export orientation. On January 1, 1994, the GOZ raised the rate of repatriation for pre-1979 investments from a maximum of 25 to 50 percent of after-tax profits. As of January 1, 1995, all foreign investors in Zimbabwe may remit up to 100 percent of their after-tax profits. Blocked remittances, and/or pre-May 1993 profits that could not be sent overseas, were held in below market rate interest bearing accounts or government securities. Previously, these funds could be reinvested in projects as long as they were matched by an inflow of foreign currency (on a one-to-one basis). Profits from these new investments could be remitted at a rate of 100 percent. In September 1995, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced and followed-up on plans to remove restrictions on the repatriation of blocked funds and dividends, and most such funds were released over a three-year period. An initial foreign capital investment made after September 1, 1979 may be fully repatriated, less any income transferred, without restriction. The corporate profits tax rate for both foreign and domestic companies is 37.5 percent. The GOZ allows a variety of deductions for depreciation, training, research, and investment in growth points. Despite making the Zimbabwe dollar convertible for current account purposes, the GOZ still strictly controls capital outflows. These controls extend to prospective outward investment, as well as to dividend remittances. Relatively few Zimbabwean firms have made investments outside the country, and most of these are in neighboring nations. Traditionally, however, investment by Zimbabweans outside their country has been something of a sore point with the GOZ, which suspects that they may actually represent disinvestment from Zimbabwe or capital flight, rather than true foreign investment. A case in point are a number of textile manufacturers who relocated to Botswana a few years ago in order to take advantage of that country's easy access to imports and foreign exchange for the purpose of exporting back into Zimbabwe. A10. Expropriation and Compensation Zimbabwe's constitution prohibits the acquisition of private property, agricultural land excepted, without compensation, and the GOZ has repeatedly stressed that it is committed to maintaining the legal protection of private property. Recent rhetoric and actions by the president and top cabinet members, including the government's sanctioning of land invasions by "war veterans," and the previous Parliament's approval in April 2000 of Constitutional Amendment No. 16 authorizing the compulsory acquisition of privately owned commercial farms with compensation limited to the improvements made on the land, calls into question the government's respect for property rights. Additionally, over the last year a number of statements have been made by the President and government officials that indicate that the mining sector may next be targeted for greater indigenization. What parameters and compensation standards will be followed if this objective is acted upon remain to be seen. While land reform and distribution is recognized as a necessary step to create long-term stability and enhanced economic participation by citizens in Zimbabwe, the current program fails in targeting these goals. In too many instances prime properties are going to ruling party cadres, and the resettled peasant population lacks the skills and resources to utilize the land they have been dropped upon. Transparency and an orderly strategy to maintain production have been grossly lacking. The government's program to acquire land (of large mainly white-owned commercial farms) and resettle it whether or not it has the funds to compensate the owners has raised serious questions about respect for property rights and the rule of law, and the future viability of this core economic sector. Besides the fate of the country's largest export producing sector, Zimbabwe's food self-reliance is also under threat from the government's actions. A11. Dispute Settlement In the event of any investment dispute, the Government of Zimbabwe will agree to submit the matter for settlement by arbitration, according to the rules and procedures promulgated by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), once the investor has exhausted the administrative and judicial remedies available locally. We are not aware of any investors who have resorted to this option. To increase investor confidence, the GOZ acceded to the 1965 convention on the settlement of investment disputes between states and nationals of other states, and to the 1958 New York convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Zimbabwe's judiciary has a well-deserved reputation for fairness and independence, though recent government actions intimidating the judiciary and new appointments to the bench raise concerns in this area. A12. Political Violence Since the Government's loss in a February 2000 constitutional referendum, ruling party supporters sanctioned and supported by the Government have systematically attacked members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and anyone suspected of supporting them. In the months preceding the June 2000 parliamentary elections and the March 2002 presidential election, the political violence intensified and ruling party supporters, including liberation war veterans and government-trained militia, perpetrated widespread abuses and killed more than 150 people. War veterans and other ruling party faithful continue to occupy most of the country's commercial farms and brutalize and intimidate white farmers and their black workforce. Demonstrations and violent unrest, committed by both sides, continue to occur periodically in high-density suburbs and peri-urban areas. Continued economic decline, including looming serious food shortages, may very well translate into further violence and protests in urban centers, as was sporadically seen in 1998 and 2000 when government- controlled consumer prices were sharply increased. During the first few years of independence, ethnic- based strife between the two major political parties (ZANU and ZAPU) resulted in the deaths and arrests of thousands of Ndebeles in the western regions of the country with much of the violence in Matabeleland carried out by the North Korean-trained "fifth brigade" in a so-called purging exercise known as the "Gukurahundi". The 1987 unity accord that merged the two parties put an end to that period of violence. With little prospect of a political solution to the ongoing economic crisis, it is not possible to predict when the situation may stabilize. B. Bilateral Investment Agreements Zimbabwe currently has bilateral investment agreements in force with Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Switzerland, Malaysia, Mozambique, China and is negotiating (albeit slowly) bilateral investment treaties with Italy and the Netherlands. However, commercial farms covered under some of the foregoing treaties remain listed for acquisition under current legislation, thereby denying the owner benefits such as free use and full, market compensation that are covered in the treaty. A bilateral investment treaty with the United States is not in effect. C. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs The GOZ and the U.S. government concluded an updated OPIC agreement in April 1999. Zimbabwe acceded to the World Bank's multilateral investment guarantee agency (MIGA) in September 1989. Many major donor countries have suspended their trade finance and export promotion programs, as well as investment coverage, due largely to mounting arrears caused by Zimbabwe's recent difficulty in meeting its foreign debt obligations in a timely manner. D. Foreign direct investment value Foreign investment has played a crucial role in Zimbabwe's development. At the end of the 1970's, foreigners owned an estimated 70-80 percent of the listed corporate sector. Today, offshore ownership of shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has fallen to approximately 25 percent (about 5 percent individuals, the remainder institutional or corporate). However, from independence in 1980 until the introduction of the precursor of the structural adjustment program in 1990, new foreign investment amounted to only about U.S. $27 million. A survey conducted in the late 1980's by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) indicated that 25 percent of industrial concerns have some foreign ownership. Because these include many of Zimbabwe's largest companies, they still account for 40- 50 percent of industrial output. Estimates of the value of overall foreign investment run as high as U.S. $5 billion (replacement cost). Foreign direct investment in the last three years has all but dried up, as the government's focus on political objectives at substantial cost to the economy continue and a return to better policies and practices seems no closer. Major Foreign Investors The vast majority of foreign investment predates independence and is held by British and South African interests. The largest investors are Anglo-American (SA), Lonrho (UK), and, until recently, BHP (Australia), which together dominate the mining and lumber industries and have large interests in manufacturing, agriculture (primarily tobacco, coffee, tea and sugar), and retailing. During the 1980's the GOZ bought interests in a number of foreign-owned firms, in some cases buying them out completely -- but always on a willing buyer/willing seller basis. Many foreign-owned firms, especially South African, localized their Zimbabwean subsidiaries through management buy-outs. The creation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with a specific mandate to promote economic integration in the region and to facilitate flows of trade and investment is still a work in progress. The U.S. government, through the U.S./SADC forum is strongly committed to working to improve the viability of SADC. There are about 40 U.S. companies operating in Zimbabwe, with estimated assets of more than U.S. $250 million (historical basis). Some of the familiar brand or company names include IBM; Coca-Cola; H.J. Heinz; Colgate; NCR; 3M; Caterpillar; Compaq Computer, and Cargill. U.S. firms play a major role in the tobacco processing industry and are major players in the distribution of retail petroleum products (Mobil and Caltex). SULLIVAN
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