Ngonidzashe Chiutsi Business Correspondent
EUROPEAN Commission Trade, Private Sector, Regional Integration consultant Dr John Olympio has urged local companies to gear themselves for the opportunities that would be presented by the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) when it is fully implemented. The EPA agreement is a framework towards the completion of a comprehensive EPA and already gives Zimbabwe 100 percent duty free-quota free access into the EU market with a transition period for rice and sugar.
On her part, Zimbabwe will liberalise 80 percent of her imports from the EU by 2022.
In an interview in Bulawayo Dr Olympio said local companies should capitalise on the EPA to increase their export trade.
“The country has signed the EPA agreement the same way they have signed the Sadc protocol or the Comesa and there is a framework enabling products of Zimbabwe into the EU market free of tax and free of duty and now and it’s up to every companies to look into the agreement clearly and seriously look at what they can do to benefit from it. Companies should use it to increase exports and improve the quality of their products,” Dr Olympio.
He expressed concern that trade between Zimbabwe had not reached full potential due to a number impediments.
“The trade between Zimbabwe and the EU has not reached full potential and the EPA agreement provides a framework to boost the trade relationship and not just trade in raw materials but trade of value added products,” said the expert.
He allayed fears that liberisation of the markets would lead to Zimbabwe becoming a dumping ground for EU goods.
“There are some products that have been excluded from liberalisation. The liberalisation is taking gradually over certain number of years and allows companies to adjust,” he said, adding that removal of trade barriers would boost trade.
EU is a traditional importer of minerals, agricultural products and other raw materials that are produced by Zimbabwe and EPAs are aimed at stimulating exports by making use of the Duty Free Quota Free access to the EU.
In the EPA agreement the EU bloc cannot export 20 percent of sensitive products of infant industries.
These products include those of animal origin, cereals, beverages, paper, plastics and rubber, textiles and clothing, footwear, glass and ceramics, consumer electronic and vehicles.
Other African countries such as Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar have also signed the agreement.