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Zimbabwe: lift of embargo and slump of trade with EU

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Thursday, 07 February 2013

Zimbabwe: lift of embargo and slump of trade with EU

Ahead of the referendum on the constitution to take place in Zimbabwe next month, the European Union is said to be ready to lift its decade old embargo against Zimbabwe, given that the democratic exercise will prove to be  'credible'. A review of EU’s policy toward Zimbabwe is expected in the coming two weeks.
The sanctions were originally imposed a decade ago- in 2002- in response to human rights abuses and political violence, after alleged electoral fraud by president Robert Mugabe. The EU partially eased the sanctions last year by removing a visa ban and asset freeze on 51 of the targeted 150 people and 20 of 30 companies on the sanctions list.

Mugabe and his coalition government partners early this month reached an agreement on the proposed new constitution paving the way for the referendum. According to a report in the state run Herald Monday, EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe Ambassador Aldo Dell' Ariccia said only "a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would justify a suspension of the majority of all restrictive measures. In this context, the recent agreement on the constitution draft is a welcome step in that direction. "
Slump in Trade and EPA
Trade between Zimbabwe and the EU has been declining because of the embargo, as well as due to the euro zone crisis  and a poor agriculture season in the country. "The total trade between Zimbabwe and the EU shows a decrease of 9, 8% in 2012 from the previous year with a decrease on the Zimbabwean exports to the EU of 16,47% and a slight increase of the imports from the EU of 2,54%," Dell'Ariccia said recently.
Zimbabwe exports mainly ferro-chromium, raw cane sugar, non-industrial and industrial diamonds,  raw hides, citrus, cut flowers and vegetables to the EU. Trade with the EU currently constitutes around 30 percent of Zimbabwe’s total exports, The EU being the country’s second largest trading partner after South Africa.
However, trade between the two parties is set to expand after Zimbabwe completed the ratification of the interim Economic Partnership (EPA) last year. Zimbabwe entered into an interim EPA with the EU in 2009, giving the country a 100% duty-free quota access into the EU market with a transition period for rice and sugar.

Source: The Africa Report, NewsDay, All Africa, ACP.