Qatar and Zimbabwe are taking their bilateral ties and prospects of co-operation to new heights, particularly in the fields of investment and agriculture.

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa held on Monday a session of official talks at the Amiri Diwan.

They witnessed the signing of an agreement on economic, trade and technical co-operation between the governments Qatar and Zimbabwe. A number of ministers were present.

The visit of Mnangagwa to Doha is described as significant, especially with the Qatari move towards expanding prospects of co-operation with the fraternal and friendly countries in the different political, economic and investment fields of mutual co-operation.

The visit allows for discussing the current developments and issues at the regional and international levels, and the economic, social and development challenges facing some African countries, in addition to enhancing friendship and co-operation ties between the two countries in the different fields.

The visit of President Mnangagwa, who came to power in November, reflects an official interest from Zimbabwe to develop co-operation and relations with Qatar on all fronts.

Both countries share several stances and ambitions as they support the principles of international peace; the right of peoples to liberation and self-determination; the need to settle disputes through dialogue, negotiations and peaceful manners; and the rejection of interference in internal affairs of other countries.

As for the Gulf crisis, Zimbabwe adopts the African Union's (AU) stance that calls for resolving the crisis through dialogue and mediation among its parties. Former President of AU, Alpha Conde, had called on African countries to adopt a united stance towards the Gulf crisis and urged, during the opening of the African summit in Addis Ababa, a peaceful settlement for the crisis.

Relations between Qatar and Zimbabwe date back to the early '90s. Diplomatic ties at the level of non-resident ambassadors started on June 11, 1998. A memorandum of understanding was signed between civil aviation authorities in Qatar and Zimbabwe on June 5, 2007, while an air services agreement was signed on October 19, 2015.

Expatriates from Zimbabwe currently work in several sectors in Qatar. Zimbabwe is known for its agricultural and animal wealth and its main exports are cotton, tobacco, platinum, gold, ferroalloys, textiles and clothing.

The importance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is highlighted in Zimbabwe's economic sector by adding $8.58bn to the country's GDP in 2016 and provided 5.9mn jobs for citizens, equivalent to three-quarters of the workforce.

About 2% of these projects turn into large companies in the light of their success and profits that help them grow, and they start using SMEs in some of their businesses, in what is known as the outsourcing policy.

Because of this success, all commercial banks in Zimbabwe have established special departments to serve SMEs, which proved to be successful despite the fact that loans to these projects do not exceed 4% of the total loans of banks operating in the country.

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