EU sees Zim trade rising to $1bln

Ambassador von Kirchman (centre) flanked by Sweden and Italy ambassadors to Zimbabwe
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THE European Union sees Zimbabwe’s annual exports to the regional bloc reaching €1billion (nearly US$1.08 billion)  from the current €700 million (US$760 million)  in the short to medium term, driven by horticulture as relations between Harare and the West gradually thaw.


Diplomatic engagements between Zimbabwe and the EU became frosty after the southern African nation embarked on a chaotic land reform exercise which resulted in over 4 000 white former commercial farmers losing vast tracts of land to locals. Harare then turned to the East to counterbalance Western isolation.

After promising to compensate white farmers who lost commercially viable land, diplomatic relations have since been improving as seen by the EU’s growing financial and technical commitment to Zimbabwe in recent years.

The EU stationed its delegation in Harare immediately after independence in 1980. With over 450 million people in 27 countries, the EU constitutes a single market providing duty-free and quota-free aces for Zimbabwean products.

“We have a trade agreement with Zimbabwe, it’s the Economic Partnership Agreement. It has been in existence for several years and very frequently when we go somewhere and we talk about it, people are not aware that Zimbabwean companies can export duty and tariff-free to the European Union and they can also import from the EU with some restrictions  to protect their own market.

For example, no dairy product, no poultry, etc. Otherwise companies can buy duty and tariff-free packaging material,” the head of EU delegation in Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann, said in a media briefing.

“So far we have €700 million annual trade, the fourth-biggest buyer, the fifth-biggest trading partner, the biggest buyer of horticulture products in the country. We could do much more. First of all, the companies have to know that this option exists.

We have less than 200 companies registered for exports, it could be 2000. We on our side have set a programme to facilitate trade…I hope that in the next couple of years, maybe we reach the €1 billion in trade because we have a significant increase over the last years. We have €700 million now, so it is a realistic objective.”

Turning to the El Niño-induced drought, von Kirchmann said over US$60 million has already been allocated under the “Team Europe Initiative” to address various aspects of the drought cycle.

“This year, Team Europe’s efforts under the Greener and Climate Smart agriculture became particularly relevant considering the current El Niño-induced drought situation exacerbated by climate change.” – News Hawk