Zimbabwe's trade and investment is set to benefit from a 50 million euro financing facility under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) which comes into effect next week, European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell’Ariccia has said.
He was speaking at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa “Improving Business Climate in Zimbabwe” workshop in Harare yesterday.
“The iEPA, which will come into effect on May 14, comes with a financing facility under the Regional Integration Support Programme that should assist the country in terms of trade development and facilitation, and the setting up of trade-related infrastructure.
“The facility also includes technical assistance, which will result in Zimbabwe businesses getting access to updated information on the EU market, and at the same time investors in the EU can get a realistic picture of the local business environment,” he said.
Funding under the RISP is aimed at supporting the regional integration agenda in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region,
This is being driven by Comesa, the East African Community (EAC), the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
The goal is to address issues such as trade, investment and supply-side constraints, among others.
Mr Dell’Ariccia said the “operationalisation” of the iEPA will also have a positive effect on the improving trade relationship between Zimbabwe and the EU.
“Zimbabwe-EU trade has doubled since 2009, and the iEPA is further expected to enhance Zimbabwe’s exports to the EU,” he said.
“As a result of Zimbabwe’s ratification of the iEPA, this will provide a wide range of opportunities for its exports into the EU and ESA since they can now enter these markets duty-free and quota-free.”
Speaking at the same event, Comesa Secretariat director of investment promotion, trade and private sector development Mr Thierry Mutombo Kalonji said his organisation was also actively working on improving its members’ investment environment.
“Zimbabwe’s readiness to embark on this programme manifest as its Government was the first to approach the secretariat to begin its implementation,” he said.
Deputy Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Samuel Undenge outlined some of the initiatives the Government had undertaken to improve the “doing business” environment in this country.
These included the setting up of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority One-Stop Shop, and the promulgation of policies such as the Medium Term Plan and the Industrial Development Policy, among others, he said.
Comesa’s roadmap for improving the business climate in the region is being implemented initially in four countries, namely Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Djibouti.