Nations to Sign Protection Agreement

Johannesburg — THE date scheduled for Zimbabwe and SA to sign their bilateral protection agreement is November 27, Sidwell Medupi, media and public relations director at the D epartment of T rade and I ndustry, confirmed yesterday.

Although there is interest among the South African business community in opportunities in Zimbabwe's resources, infrastructure and consumer sectors, uncertainty remains about a number of aspects that a protection agreement could partly allay.

The bilateral agreement has been under negotiation since 2002 and was due to be signed in March, but was delayed by disagreement over a clause on the issue of providing security of property rights for South African investments in Zimbabwe.

Business Unity SA (Busa) trade policy director Catherine Grant said yesterday Busa had received no official notification of the date of the signing ceremony, but was likely to be included in the event. She said Busa had not seen the agreement but understood a compromise on property rights had been negotiated in July.

Medupi could not provide details of what was in the final agreement. But he confirmed the signing ceremony would take place in Zimbabwe.

He was responding to questions about reports from independent news agency ZimOnline and Reuters this week quoting Zimbabwe's economic planning minister, Elton Mangoma, in which Mangoma also said the signing would take place on November 27 but did not disclose the venue. According to Reuters, Mangoma said there were "no contentious issues" in the agreement. (All Africa)


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