HARARE – The European Union-imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe do not affect trade between the country and the trading bloc, Ambassador Aldo Dell’ Ariccia has said.
“If the sanctions were affecting Zimbabwe then trade between EU and Zimbabwe would not have doubled since 2009,” he said adding that Europe is currently working on ensuring that Zimbabwe’s economy fully recovers.
Trade between the country and the EU amounted to $860 million last year with a positive trade balance of $171 million in favour of Zimbabwe.
Dell’ Ariccia said the EU this week held an export seminar to help Zimbabwean companies to access the European market.
“European consumers are interested in Zimbabwean products and Zimbabwean businesses are interested in selling to the EU market. For that reason, we are promoting local companies to have unhindered access to Europe,” he said.
The target-based sanctions, imposed on Zimbabwe by the West at the height of the land reform in the early 2000s, were mainly placed on President Robert Mugabe’s cronies and their businesses.
Over the years, since the signing of the Global Political Agreement in 2009, they have been eased and relaxed gradually with the western nations reviewing whether to lift the sanctions annually.
In March, the EU suspended travel bans and asset freezes on a number of Zimbabwean firms and people on its sanctions list after the country approved a new Constitution in a referendum.
The European trade block did not however, remove sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), keeping those measures at least until the conclusion of the upcoming elections.
Political commentators however, said the keeping of the sanctions on ZMDC is a welcome measure considering that the company is responsible for funding Zanu PF in all its endeavours, including State-sponsored violence against members of the former opposition, the MDCs.
The lifting of the ban on ZMDC was requested by Belgium, where Antwerp, the world’s biggest diamond trading centre, is based, who pushed for it to be freed from the sanctions ban.
ZMDC was given a grace period of at least a month after the elections to see whether it can be fully rid of the sanctions by the EU. – John Kachembere