Zim horticulture exports to EU surge

This was revealed by the bloc’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann in an interview at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.

THE European Union (EU) has become the biggest buyer of Zimbabwe’s horticultural products, resulting in trade volumes between the two countries hitting US$700 million, Standardbusiness has learnt.

This was revealed by the bloc’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann in an interview at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.

The EU brought six member states to participate at this year’s trade showcase.

“You might perhaps know that the European Union is the fifth biggest trading partner of Zimbabwe, the fourth biggest buyer and you might not know that the European Union and Zimbabwe have a free trade agreement,” von Kirchmann said.

“So, any Zimbabwean company can export duty and tariff free any product to the European Union.

“We are the fourth biggest buyer of products; we are the biggest buyer of horticulture products of Zimbabwe with over 40% (of Zimbabwe’s horticulture exports).

“We have a trade volume of US$700 million. So, I could be very happy, but I’m actually not because I believe a lot more could be done.”

The top three of these horticultural products are citrus, leguminous vegetables and cut flowers.

The EU sells machinery and chemicals to Zimbabwe that support local industry by encouraging greater efficiency in processing in agricultural production, transport and tea and leather processing sectors.

The envoy also promised to avail investment opportunities in Zimbabwe to the EU member states.

“A key aspect to that is knowledge. Knowledge about what do I as a company or need to do to know in order to register for export, what are the requirements, how do I fulfill them,” he said.

“So, we have trade facilitation programmes where we can help companies. We have also supported the government because, obviously, when you go to a border post the governmental services also need to know that they can export freely but they can also import.

“They have to know this as well. So, we have also helped Zimbabwean companies with financing facilities.

“So, our bank, the European Investment Bank, with specific credits in the range of US$1 million, with a long tenure and a lower interest rate.

“As soon as we had made it available, it immediately went off. "That was a big success as well.

“And many Zimbabwean companies, I mean all Zimbabwean companies could benefit from that. And that also led then to an increase in trade, in particular in the horticulture area.”

The ambassador reiterated that the bloc does not have any sanctions against Zimbabwe, but prohibited companies from selling arms to Harare.

“This is a long time ago, there are no sanctions and the EU has instructed their own companies not to deliver arms to Zimbabwe, but it does not affect trade,” von Kirchmann  said.

“That is why I say we have a free trade agreement; we have investment, we have one I think probably the only multilateral creditor who currently gives loans to the private sector in Zimbabwe.

“So just to show you the support.”

The visitors had the opportunity to access information on export requirements, support to agriculture machinery imports, technical assistance, lending facilities with the European Investment Bank as well as locating European business partners and exploring new markets.

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