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EU Ambassador Olkkonen dismisses Zim’s trade sanctions claim

 

Staff writer

EUROPEAN Union’s (EU) Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Timo Olkkonen has set the record straight, distancing the bloc from claims that there is a trade embargo targeting products emerging from Zimbabwe.

He made the remarks at the official launch of the Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Agreement Support Project, Wednesday dismissing the alleged existence of sanctions.

“I would like to remind you that the EU has never ever applied market access restrictions to Zimbabwe, there is no and never was any sanctions of this kind.

“In line with the objective enshrined in the Contonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000, the EU has sought to update its preferential trade relationship with the African Carribean and Pacific Countries (ACP) by establishing free trade areas with regional groupings,” he said.

Olkkonen said the development gave birth to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) aiming to allow ACP countries to continue exporting their products to the EU without any restriction while ensuring compliance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

“According to the WTO, it was not possible to continue the previous trade regime based on preferences, many of them reacted to guaranteed quotas and prices. In the current difficult trade policy international environment the EU countries continues to push for free trade,” he said.

He explained that embarking on the EPA was not easy and we faced a lot of hesitation and criticism since these EPAs, like all other trade agreements are according to the WTO have to be reciprocal by nature.

This meant that for the open market access priviledges granted by the EU, the ACP countries had to grant the same privileges.

Olkkonen said the EU does not impose a one to one reciprocity and instead applies the maximum availability allowed by the WTO and grant a lot of expectations as well as long periods of adaptations before trade is liberalised.

The tale of the existence of sanctions on Zimbabwe is very topical but remains complicated in as far as the extent of their impact is concerned.

The former late President Robert Mugabe castigated the EU for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe saying it had caused massive economic decline for the nation.

His successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also pushed  the sanctions agenda by encouraging thousands  Zimbabweans to rally behind him  in support of his call on the United States and the European Union to lift sanctions imposed against the country by staging a demonstration last year.

 

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