via EU to inject $260 m starting Feb – New Zimbabwe 29/01/2015
THE European Union (EU) is expected to sign the National Indicative Program with Zimbabwe soon under which the bloc will provide 234 million euros (about 266 million U. S. dollars) to support socioeconomic programs in Zimbabwe over the next five years.
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe Van Damme said the funding for some of the programs will start as early as February.
The funds will come under the 11th European Development Fund after the EU lifted decade-long economic sanctions on Zimbabwe last November.
The country had not been receiving direct funding from the EU since 2002 when the bloc imposed sanctions on the country over political differences.
“We hope to be able to sign the National Indicative Program over the next couple of weeks. It’s just a question of logistics now,” the ambassador said.
He said some of the initial programs will be signed next month and that they were ready to take off.
“We have a couple of programs which can start very quickly, mainly programs which build on what we have already been doing in the past and that includes the health sector and governance support programs.”
Van Damme said they still needed time to prepare for the rest of the programs which were expected to start rolling in the second half of the year.
“We hope to have a reasonable amount of programs ready for the second half of 2015. So we will have the quick ones around February or March which will get about 20 million euros and then we will have additional amounts which will be more significant which can start in the second half of this year depending on how quickly we finalize the programs,” he said.
On EU-Zimbabwe trade, the envoy said there was room for further improvement given that Zimbabwe had signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU in 2009.
“It’s performing reasonably well but of course there is scope for further improvement,” he said.
Zimbabwe was now working to implement programs which can boost the trade ties including addressing trade facilitation and trans- border issues, the ambassador said.
Zimbabwe has enjoyed a trade surplus with the EU over the last couple of years. The trade surplus reached 156.3 million U.S. dollars in the first nine months of 2013, with the country’s exports to the EU dominated by tobacco leaf, raw cane sugar, industrial and non-industrial diamonds and horticulture products. (1 euro equals 1.14 U.S. dollars)