Sanctions are very good, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa, just as the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Zimbabwe Jobst von Kirchmann heaped praises on him saying the bloc is optimistic that Zimbabwe has the capability to become the regional economic powerhouse.
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Last year in November, Ambassador Kirchmann commended Zimbabwe for its commitment to fulfilling engagement and re-engagement in an open and transparent manner.
For the first time, the EU delegation exhibited at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, the country’s biggest annual trade expo as a bloc which amplifies the Second Republic’s re-engagement and engagement drive.
Unlike in the past when individual countries from the EU such as France, Germany and Italy, participated at the ZITF, this year it was the the EU as a bloc that participated, a confirmation that the country’s engagement and re-engagement drive is bearing fruit.
Speaking at the EU stand Ambassador Kirchmann said efforts would be made to ensure Zimbabwe benefits from increased trade and investment by the 27-member bloc.
He said their presence at the country’s prime trade expo showed that trade between Zimbabwe and the EU is vital.
“This is an important event because I believe this is shared by the Zimbabwean Government that we could do more than what we are doing. We are one of Zimbabwe’s main trading partners and at the moment we have an annual trade volume of over US$700 million,” said Ambassador Kirchmann.
“We are the number one export destination for Zimbabwe’s horticulture produce as 42 percent of the country’s produce is exported to the European market.”
Ambassador Kirchmann said EU had for the first time exhibited as a bloc. He said the EU appreciated initiatives that had been implemented by the Government.
“We hope that with all the initiatives being undertaken by the NDS1 gradually, we will see a more prosperous business climate that attracts businesses. I am very proud that I personally came to inaugurate this stand and be here for this big stand,” he said.
Ambassador Kirchmann said there is room to increase trade between Zimbabwe and Belgium in response to the Second Republic’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
“There is room for much more investments and I think that is also what Zimbabwe wants because I hear you are open for business, you want to build an export-led economy and I have read the NDS1 and there is a lot in it,” he said.
“As the European Union, we would like Zimbabwe to succeed and we would like to work together.”
Ambassador Kirchmann commended President Mnangagwa for adopting and implementing gender-based initiatives saying gender-based related issues are key in terms of promoting economic growth.
“We have a programme called the ‘spotlight initiative’ and President Mnangagwa committed himself and endorsed it. We have said that is a priority for us and a priority for Zimbabwe which is in line with our own values. Gender is a key issue and we share the same values and interests,” Ambassador Kirchmann.
He said women play a critical role economically, socially and politically and commended the Second Republic for implementing various programmes aimed at empowering women through agricultural projects in line with Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
“Our programmes only target and promote the Zimbabwean strategy and what we do is to look and promote the strategies that are available in the country.
“For instance, we have seen in cases like those concerning gender that there is a lot of commitment. For us, this has a double meaning. It’s for gender equality and the improvement of women’s lives, said Ambassdor Kirchmann.
He said Zimbabwe had the capability to become Southern Africa’s biggest economy through adhering and committing to the country’s strategies.- state media