India and Zimbabwe on Tuesday agreed to work for early conclusion and ratification of the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) to make it operational at the earliest for the benefit of both the countries.

This was agreed to during the bilateral meeting between the Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma and visiting Industry and Commerce Minister of Zimbabwe, Prof. Welshman Ncube, here.

``The ratification process for the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) is complete on our side and we are awaiting the ratification on the Zimbabwean side before exchanging the instruments of ratification and enabling the agreement to become operational,’’ Mr. Sharma said after the meeting.

He said BIPA will provide a fillip to Indian investors seeking to enter Zimbabwe. During the bilateral meeting, Mr. Sharma referred to the Indo-Zimbabwe Small and Medium Enterprises project, under which India provided machinery, equipment and training worth $5 million.

``We are planning to set up a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Zimbabwe to further develop skills and capacity in Zimbabwe,’’ he added.

He expressed appreciation over the 54 per cent stake taken by Essar Africa Holdings in Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO); which would be the largest Indian investment in Zimbabwe. He noted the possibilities in cooperation in science and technology between India and Zimbabwe, particularly in appropriate technologies in agriculture, agro-processing and renewable energy.

``Our continuing and accelerating engagement with Africa, the India-Africa Summit in April 2008 and the forthcoming India-Africa Summit in May 2011 would make it more firm in terms of bilateral trade cooperation,’’ he added.

India carries special interest with Zimbabwe in mining, power generation, railways, ICT and agricultural sector.

Prof. Ncube while appreciating India’s role said, Zimbabwe seeks to benefit from Indian assistance, in particular, in the health sector, e-governance, and technology”. Both the Ministers underlined the

importance to rejuvenate the Joint Trade Committee between India and Zimbabwe.

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