Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom have launched a trade partnership programme to build the country’s capacity to increase exports of horticultural products to the UK and European Union markets.
The programme, dubbed the United Kingdom Trade Partnership (UKTP) Programme in Zimbabwe and under which a US$100 000 grant has been extended, is funded by the British government through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and facilitated by the International Trade Centre as the implementing agency.
The programme is designed to facilitate Zimbabwe as a party to the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)-United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), to meaningfully tap the benefits of the Trade Agreement by increasing bilateral trade with the UK.
It assists farmers and producers suffering from trade disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking the potential of EPAs with the UK and the EU. In Zimbabwe it will target 600 smallholder farmers who will be linked to global markets and 35 percent of the beneficiaries will be women.
Zimbabwe signed and ratified the UK-ESA Economic Partnership Agreement to facilitate uninterrupted market access to the UK market following Bexit.
“I wish to encourage the horticulture sector in Zimbabwe to make use of the trade preferences accorded and the capacity building being rendered under the UKTP programme to grow exports by at least 10 percent annually – our export target towards Vision 2030,” Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza said.
ITC executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said the programme would provide a unique platform to address some of the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is no more important time to forge ahead with specific activities that enhance trade cooperation, improve market access and deliver sustainable economic benefits around the world.”
The UK is the largest foreign investor in Zimbabwe with over 300 firms in various sectors which are either wholly or partially owned by British investors.
Zimbabwe’s total trade with the UK has averaged over US$100 million annually. Exports to the UK increased by 276 percent from US$30 million in 2012 to US$112 million in 2018 before slightly going down to US$90 million in 2019.
Zimbabwe imported goods worth US$95 million from the UK in 2012, which went down to US$60 million in 2018 and US$50 million in 2019.
Currently, horticulture export figures to the UK are around US$14 million as recorded in 2019 (for peas, avocadoes, oranges, berries, flowers, plums, and tea). In 1999 Zimbabwe exported US$45 million worth of horticultural products and US$39 million worth of flowers to the UK.