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Zimbabwe Case Study on Trade Negotiations

Working papers

Of the five categories of negotiations in which Zimbabwe participated in the last ten years, only two sets, namely SADC and COMESA, bear the positive signs of the countr’s participation and influence. In one respect this could be explained by historical circumstances: in the case of the GATT/WTO and the Lomé Conventions, and to some extent the bilateral agreements with Botswana, Malawi and South Africa, Zimbabwe had to negotiate accession to, and not the terms of these arrangements since they already existed prior to its independence. Consequently, and as will be demonstrated the definition or identification of negotiation issues for Zimbabwe was therefore largely predetermined by others in the GATT/WTO, ACP/EU and some of the bilateral agreements. What was left was for the country to then define and identify its negotiation interests within these already established frameworks and agendas. While this appeared a lesser task, in effect it proved inherently problematical and disadvantageous for a country that had no experience in such negotiations, did not have an established trade policy framework and whose immediate priorities lay elsewhere. In contrast, the country is a co-founder, together with its regional neighbours, of the two regional integration and trading arrangements of SADC and COMESA that were born after Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. In this instance Zimbabwe played a significant and influential part in defining the negotiation agenda and subsequently the outcomes of these negotiations. Indeed, these negotiations were the major priorities of both the government authorities and the business sector.

Richard Hess