GOVERNMENT and the European Union (EU) have launched a project that will see Zimbabwe access 80% of goods from the EU with no tariffs, making them cheaper.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The EU has set aside €10 million to support the implementation of the project called the Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Agreement Support Project (Zepa) which was launched yesterday. The agreement comes as trade with the EU forms only about 5% of Zimbabwe’s total trade.
“The EU has liberalised all exports, there is a duty-free, border-free access to all Zimbabwean produce to enter the European market. But, the WTO (World Trade Organisation) also demands reciprocity which means that Zimbabwe also needs to liberalise its market for European imports,” EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen told NewsDay Business shortly after the launch of Zepa.
“And, the 20% imports relate to the amount of protection that Zimbabwe can have as establishing tariff lines, so Zimbabwe over the years will liberalise 80% of its trade and 20% of imports will be protected. So, with imports from the EU, 20% can be protected with tariffs and then 80% can be liberalised. This is not a demand that comes form the EU but from the WTO.”
He added: “Zimbabwe has a huge, huge, trade deficit. But, in fact, the trade between the EU and Zimbabwe is in favour of Zimbabwe. So, Zimbabwe is exporting more than it’s importing from the EU. It is not huge amounts, but horticulture is growing. If I remember correctly, the trade balance is around €150 million positive for Zimbabwe for 2017 or 2018”.
The overall objective of Zepa is to enhance Zimbabwe’s integration into the regional and international trading system and to increase the volume of exports between the EU and Zimbabwe. Through the €10 million grant, the EU will support Zepa through supporting policy improvements, improved trade facilitation and competitiveness and export capacity for small to medium enterprises.