The European Union (EU) has opened a second Zimbabwe-EU Business Information Centre (Zim-EBIC) in Zimbabwe’s second capital Bulawayo to serve as an information hotspot that will allow Zimbabwean businesses to easily and conveniently access information about trade with the European Union, according to Philippe Van Damme, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of EU to Zimbabwe.
Ambassador Van Damme said that the establishment of the Zim-EBIC in Bulawayo which followed the successful launch of a similar centre in Harare in 2014, is part of the European Union’s Support to Trade and Private Sector Development Projects, implemented by International Trade Centre (ITC) in the framework of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (i-EPA) between the EU and the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) Region, signed in 2009 and ratified by Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in 2012.
He added that the EURO 3 million project is in line with the national priorities spelled out in the National Trade Policy and Industrial Development Policy and will contribute to enhance the EU’s dialogue with Zimbabwe on trade and private sector development.
“Zimbabwean companies benefit from a ‘Duty Free Quota Free’ access to the EU market, which has been enshrined in the ‘Economic Partnership Agreement’ ratified by Zimbabwe in 2012. This free access is not only a theoretical concept but has also to become increasingly an operational reality. The European Union’s ‘Support to Trade and Private Sector Development Project’ makes that happen. The project also assists in strengthening the capacities of key actors like intermediary organisations and business associations in order to provide better business development services to their members” said Ambassador Philippe Van Damme.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha also participated at the official opening of the information centre.
According to the EU-Zimbabwe office, the establishment of the centre specifically aims at creating mutually beneficial linkages between Zimbabwean businesses and European counterparts. It also seeks to complement to the public and private sector agencies of EU Member States and Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe-EU Business Information Centre was set up at the offices of Zimtrade, located in 48 Josiah Tongogara Street in Bulawayo.
It is also expected to assist exporters including SMEs to easily access market information, including such tools as the Market Access Databases, the Export Help Desk and EU publications.
The main component of Zim-EBIC is a virtual library with databases that include, amongst others, EU standards and norms and import procedures, EU-Zimbabwe trade statistics, linkages with EU Chambers of Commerce, as well as information on EU exporters and importers.
It is also reported that with the inauguration of the Zimbabwe-European Business Information Centre, the EU reaffirms its long-standing commitment to strong trade links between the 28 EU Member States and Zimbabwe, even beyond the recently signed National Indicative Programme (NIP) that concentrates on the key areas such as health, agriculture based economic growth and good governance/institution building.
The EU also remains as the second largest trading partner of Zimbabwe. Trade relations have been sound for years from 2009 to 2014. Trade between the EU Member States and Zimbabwe more than doubled and in 2014, it yielded a positive trade balance in favour of Zimbabwe of EURO 289.286 million (approximately US$313.73 million).