Zimbabwe is negotiating a new bilateral trade and inve stment deal with South Africa, its biggest trading partner in Africa, according to Finance Minister Tendai Biti .
Biti said here Wednesday the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement, which So uth African businesses had insisted on before committing new investments to Zimbabwe, was only weeks away from being si gned.
He said the deal was part of the country’s efforts to lure back foreign investor s who had fled the country in the wake of its long running political and economic instability in the last ten years.
The agreement is seen by South African investors as an insurance against possibl e property seizures by Zimbabwean authorities, who sparked international controversy in 2000 by seizing white-owned farms for r esettlement.
They had insisted on it before coming to invest in Zimbabwe, where a new coaliti on government, sworn in February, is courting foreign investors.
“The negotiations will be concluded in the next few weeks,” Biti said.
Apart from South Africa being Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner in Africa, it i s also the main source of investment, especially in the agriculture sector.