EU, Zimbabwe Meeting To Strengthen Relations
The talks come after initial contact between the EU and the southern African country in 2010 after years of poor relations.
Dell’Ariccia told journalists on the eve of the EU day which is commemorated Wednesday across Europe member states that the EU hoped to begin serious political dialogue with Zimbabwe to restore relations.
“The meeting should enhance our common understanding and help build the trust and confidence needed on both sides to move forward,” he said.
“The EU is keen to engage in a serious political dialogue with Zimbabwe. We trust that the meeting between the Zimbabwean Ministerial Re-engagement team and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, and taking place on May 10 in Brussels will be constructive and pave the way for a process towards normalised relations.”
Cabinet members from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (P)F party have been saying the meeting will center on sanctions slapped on Mugabe and his senior party officials in 2002 after violent and disputed polls. Mugabe also kicked out EU election observer leader team Pierre Schori from the country.
Justice Minister Patrcik Chinamasa from Zanu (PF), Ernegy Minister Elton Mangoma from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga from the smaller MDC faction will attend the meeting.
“The EU and its member states are the biggest providers of development assistance in the world. In Zimbabwe, we have provided one billion USD in development assistance since 2009,” said Dell ‘Ariccia.
Meanwhile the ambassador said trade between the EU and Zimbabwe has been increasing since 2009 and is worth over $870 million.
“We are happy to announce that Zimbabwe is part of the first group of African countries having subscribed to the interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU coming into effect on 14 May,” EU ambassador to Zimbabwe,” he said.
“The EU is already the second largest trading partner to Zimbabwe and trade has doubled since 2009, with the large trade surplus to the benefit of Zimbabwe. With this agreement (EPA), Zimbabwe will continue enjoying tariff and quota free access to the European markets, while at the same time benefitting from other advantages like the protection of infant industry.”
Last year, Zimbabwe exported 444 million Euros ($580 million) products to the EU and imported goods worth $200 million during the same year.
Some of the products imported by the EU from Zimbabwe include cereals, tobacco, flowers, beverages, paper, plastics and rubber as well glass and ceramics among other products.