C’wealth, sanctions removal top priority

09 Jan, 2021 - 00:01 0 Views
C’wealth, sanctions removal top priority

The Herald

Joseph Madzimure

Senior Reporter

Rejoining the Commonwealth and seeking the removal of illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, principally by the United States (US) and her allies, are the top priorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade this year.

Since assuming office in November 2017, the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa has made strides in engaging and re-engaging with the rest of the world to foster socio-economic development, democracy and peaceful coexistence to eradicate poverty

Zimbabwe’s foreign policy endeavours to advance the country’s policy objectives on the global arena.

The New Dispensation is making strides in promoting engagement with rest of the world and promoting economic diplomacy.

The Government will prioritise rejoining the Commonwealth as a launchpad to unlock international goodwill and sustain re-engagement milestones already realised through resumption of political dialogue with international blocs such as the European Union (EU).

It is envisaged that rejoining the Commonwealth will fast track the resolution and ratification of the outstanding Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) , as well as launch bids to host internationally-accredited global events and conferences.

Responding to questions e-mailed, Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Mrs Beatrice Mutetwa said Zimbabwe was poised to continue playing an active role globally and wished to be a friend of all and enemy of none.

Mrs Mutetwa said the country would continue to re-engage with the EU, United Kingdom (UK), US and is hopeful that sanctions will be eased and the country will join the Commonwealth.

“We are hopeful that relations with the outside world will deepen given that the USA-Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe-EU dialogue and Zimbabwe-UK bilateral political consultations platforms for engagements”.

The recent endorsement by the renowned Mo-lbrahim Index of African Governance which ranked Zimbabwe among the five most improved nations over the last decade is a clear testimony that the country’s reforms are being undertaken seriously.

Moreover, just last month, the UK pledged to vaccinate 20 percent of the country’s population (about 3 million Zimbabweans), against the Covid-19 pandemic when its Comvax vaccine becomes available.

Mrs Mutetwa said that is certainly a prospect for the country. “Our engagements efforts are bearing fruits,”.

At continental level Mrs Mutetwa said the country welcomes the operationalisation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that came into effect on January 1, 2021.

AfCFTA, she said is meant to accelerate infra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations through market diversification and streamline bureaucratic processes that have been impeding on investment and doing business.

“The country now has a One Stop Investment Services centre under the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA).

“ZIDA consolidates and simplifies the process of registering new business in the country.

“All these are certainly big prospects for the country in the year 2021,” she said.

In parallel, and beyond the continent, she said: “We have sought to further strengthen already excellent relations with long standing partners such as China, India, Russia, Brazil and so on. His Excellency the President has made official visits to China and Russia.

High-level visitors from China, India and Russia have been received in Zimbabwe.

Over and above this, Zimbabwe is actively engaging new partners, opening up new frontiers for cooperation, trade an investment.

In this regard, she said President Mnangagwa made official visits to Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“In all instances, but perhaps most specifically with Belarus and UAE, the positive outcome of such engagement is already clear to see.

“Even a cursory glance at the list of approved foreign investment projects, both already underway and still to be implemented, bears testimony to the success of His Excellency’s engagement and re-engagement policy. Not only in terms of the quantum of investment committed and the key sectors in which the investment is being directed, but also in terms of the origin or source of those investments,” said Mrs Mutetwa.

Naturally, she said long-standing partners such as China, Russia, South Africa, and India feature prominently in both existing and committed future investment.

“But it is the interest and commitment manifested by new and returning partners which so clearly validates our foreign policy thrust, partners such as Singapore, UAE, Tur key, Australia, France, Oman, Pakistan, Netherlands and both the UK and the USA, to name just a few.

“Our most vocal critics over the past 20 years or so, and those who, in the early 2000s opted to go the punitive sanctions route, are mainly western countries and their associated financial institutions.

“Re-engagement with these countries and institution specifically the USA, the UK and the EU more broadly is a critically important element of the New Dispensation’s foreign policy.

“In all cases doors have been opened to us and we are actively and cordially engaged. Of course, divergence remains especially on the issue of sanctions and continuing punitive measures imposed on Zimbabwe, but the mere fact that we are talking to rather that at the US, UK and EU administrations represents a very significant advance on where Zimbabwe stood prior to November 2017

“With regard to the EU, had it not been for Covid-19, we would already have held our second ministerial-level Political Dialogue, recently elevated from the level of senior officials,”.

Progress, she said has been made so far and the atmosphere is positive and the prospects for yet further improvement remain promising.

However, Mrs Mutetwa the biggest challenges to that progress are sanctions.

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