Zim yet to benefit from EU trade pact

The European Union (EU) is in the process of crafting strategies to resuscitate the €7 million facility which it signed with government to support trade.

BY TARISAI MANDIZHA

The facility was signed in 2012.

Zimbabwe signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in March 2012, taking it a step further towards a comprehensive EPA. The interim pact already gives Zimbabwe 100% duty free-quota, free access into the EU market, with a transition period for rice and sugar, according to the EU.

The interim EPAs are aimed at promoting trade with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions.

Speaking at the ZimTrade official launch of the Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness Training Programme yesterday, EU Task Manager Economic Cooperation and Food Security, Martin Zhou said since 2012 Zimbabwe has failed to unlock the €7 million facility due to various challenges.
“We are engaging with Government of Zimbabwe and at the present moment we are now working on the €$7 million Euro programme which is coming from Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [Comesa] and to identify what it is that we want to do, to assist in the development of the country.

“The €7 million facility was signed in 2012; however, this has not been implemented due to constraints,” Zhou said.

Zhou said Zimbabwe has a trade surplus of around $140 million with the EU and the country was expecting to gain more if it took advantage of the ZimTrade initiatives in place.

ZimTrade chief executive officer Sithembile Pilime said the Marketing and Branding for International Competitiveness training programme, formerly called Export Marketing Training Programme, was reviewed and rebranded with the assistance of the International Trade Centre, under the Trade and Private Sector Development Programme which was funded by the European Union.

“We have confidence that this region can regain its former status when there was a thriving industry in a number of sectors such as foods, both processed and horticultural produce, clothing, timber and paper, among others.

“ZimTrade, with the continued support from key development partners, will endeavour to contribute towards the growth of the export sector in this region,” Pilime said.

She said ZimTrade has identified three key drivers for the exporting enterprises, namely identifying target markets, organising the market readiness response and connecting to buyers to transact business.

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