The United Kingdom (UK) has expressed interest in resuscitating trade relations with Zimbabwe, but voiced concern over the lack of comprehensive political and economic reforms in the country.
The concern arose after the passing of former president of the southern African country, Robert Mugabe. UK ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite said his government hopes “to see more trade and investment with Zimbabwe in the future.”
“We believe there is notable potential in the renewable energy, agriculture and financial services sectors, sectors with the potential to improve livelihoods and financial inclusion,” Braithwaite said during a WTO Trade Policy Review on Zimbabwe in Geneva on Wednesday, 30 September 2020.
The envoy said the UK was particularly keen on supporting Zimbabwe’s efforts to address the electricity deficit, which has resulted in persistent power cuts since the early 2000s.
He, however, bemoaned the scourge of corruption, which is hampering “Zimbabwe’s development by capturing public and private resources, distorting economic decision making and undermining governance and accountability.”
“We continue to urge Zimbabwe to guarantee the independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the courts, and to take the necessary steps to address corruption and tackle entrenched vested interests and illicit financial flows,” he said.
He added, “Meaningful progress on reforms, along with respect for human rights and the rule of law, are the only way to sustainably deal with Zimbabwe’s underlying challenges, unlock significant investment and bring about a better future for Zimbabwe and its people.”
Total trade between the two countries stood at 285 million pounds in the four quarters to the end of March 2020. The UK is also Zimbabwe’s second-largest bilateral development partner, providing 74 million punds of bilateral development assistance to support Zimbabwe this year alone.