Seeking to put the trade relations and economic cooperation on fast track, India and Zimbabwe on Wednesday agreed to accelerate the approval of a decade-old pact Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) that aims at boosting bilateral investments.

The BIPA, which was signed in February 1999, has not come into force yet. "When I look at the potential of our bilateral trade and investment relations, I am quite convinced that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg,’’ Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia said during his ongoing visit to African nations along with a business delegation.

A statement issued here said Mr. Scindia stressed upon the need to strengthen the investment and trade ties between the two nations. "A resurgent Indian economy has much to offer Zimbabwe in terms of investments, technology, skills, products and services in diverse economic and social streams," he remarked.

Mr. Scindia, who held talks with Zimbabwe's Industry Minister, W. Nucbe, said there was huge scope to significantly diversify bilateral trade, which stood at paltry $125 million in 2010-11. He offered India's full support to Zimbabwe in areas like telecom, highways and railways and extended technical assistance in strengthening rail tracks, logistics and aviation sectors.

Mr. Scindia complimented the Zimbabwe Government for their recently launched Mid-term Plan which aims to promote economic growth and sustainable development in the country. Apart from bilateral meeting with Mr. W Nucbe , bilateral meetings were also held with N.T. Goche Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Minister of Energy, and the Minister of Agriculture.

Mr. Scindia informed his Zimbabwe counterpart that it had been decided to further strengthen the India-Zimbabwe bilateral ties by setting up Rural technology Park and Food testing laboratory in Zimbabwe.

Addressing the business conference "Doing Business in Zimbabwe: Investment opportunities and Challenges’’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Mr. Scindia announced setting up of the Indo-Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce, which will facilitate interaction between the business communities of both the countries and facilitate interaction between business and Government at both ends.

Mr. Scindia highlighted the fact that in the coming years maximum growth will be from South-South trade amongst the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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