Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe should expedite the ratification of its trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) to ensure the continuation of trade relations when Britain leaves the European Union (EU).
This was said by British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Melanie Robinson after paying a courtesy call on Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday.
Zimbabwe exports goods worth US$400 million annually to the UK.
“The Honourable Speaker and I had a good discussion this morning and the first thing we discussed was the continuation of trade between the UK and Zimbabwe,” Ambassador Robinson said.
“We have excellent trade relations. At the moment over US$400 million of trade in goods from Zimbabwe go to the UK. Just recently I was in the Eastern Highlands looking at one of the tea estates of which 95 percent of that tea goes to London and we were talking about ratifying our agreement to continue that trade so that the UK and Zimbabwe can continue the same level of trade after the UK has left the European Union, so I was assured by the Speaker that that process is underway.”
Last year, the UK was Zimbabwe’s third best export market, taking 21 percent of products destined for the EU.
Zimbabwe’s exports to the UK include diamonds, mange tout peas, black fermented tea, oranges, unmanufactured tobacco, fresh avocados, sculptures, fresh peaches, fresh nectarines, fresh raspberries, passion fruit and jewellery, among others.
Mrs Robinson said they also discussed reforms being undertaken by the Government.
“The second issue that we discussed was the importance of aligning legislation with the Constitution, important pieces of legislation such as the repeal of AIPPA and the work on electoral reform and making sure that the commitment that the President made on those political reforms have gone forward with enough levels of consultation, but nonetheless at the pace that is required and we had a good conversation on completing that process under this session of Parliament,” she said.
Adv Mudenda said the reforms would be carried out in line with the dictates of the Constitution.
“Parliament is obligated in terms of Section 141 of the Constitution to involve the public in our legislative processes and we have to balance speed with that requirement of the constitutional provision so that we create ownership of the law making process with the public as well as civil society organisations.
“So we must be fast but be careful not to leave the public behind who are the key stakeholders of the legislative process,” Adv Mudenda said.