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Zimbabwe's trade negotiations with the European Union : state shortcomings and civil society advocacy, 2000-2013.

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The dissertation interrogates the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiation between the European Union (EU) and Zimbabwe, covering trade in goods, trade in services, trade-related rules and development cooperation. Within the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) configuration, Zimbabwe belongs to eastern and southern Africa, and used this base to extend the 1980 Lomé Conventions and 2000 Cotonou Agreement with the EU. But EU-Zimbabwe trade relations have reflected changing motives of the EU as the dominant development partner. Since the Lomé Conventions, Zimbabwe has exported diverse agriculture, manufacturing and mining products, especially beef, leather, vegetable products, beverages, spirits and vinegar, flue-cured tobacco, sugar (raw and refined), cotton (raw and lint), fermented tea and coffee, cut flowers, precious or semi-precious metal scrap/stones, articles of base metals, nickel and ferro-alloys. In turn, the country has been importing machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, vehicles, aircraft and associated transport equipment, and products of chemical and allied industries. But notwithstanding generous access to the EU market under Lomé, Zimbabwe (and other ACP economies) could not improve economic growth or broaden development through trade. As a result, many civil society organisations (CSOs) were critical of recent free trade agreements, although their critiques reflected extreme ideological division. Zimbabwe’s EPA debate reflected two distinct groups: ‘collaborators’ who emphasised direct interaction with the state in their engagement and participation in the process, and ‘resisters’ who repudiated any formal interaction and consultation, instead, opting for confrontational tactical engagement. This not only prevented a collective, strategic CSOs engagement on the process, but also created dilemmas in pursuit of a fair EPA outcome. Likewise, the post-2009 Government of National Unity was confronted with neo-liberal versus protectionist struggles and related tensions, resulting in disunity in economic policy-making and EPA negotiation processes. The study interrogates Zimbabwe’s state-stakeholders and their fault-lines in a context of EU dominance, as well as the bilateral-related sanctions imposed against the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front leadership during the negotiation process. Subsequently, an economically weak and vulnerable Zimbabwe signed and ratified an asymmetrical interim EPA with an economically powerful EU. The 31 July 2013 election may alter the power balance sufficiently to lead to a reconsideration of the deal, as Zimbabwe continues to ‘look East’ in its economic orientation. The study’s contribution to the field of bilateral trade negotiations is in exploring theoretical concepts of ‘guerrilla negotiating approaches, strategies and tactics’ employed by negotiating parties and CSOs that have extreme ideological differences between liberal and redistributive interpretations. The possibility of coherence is increasing, given the unsatisfactory politics of EU-Zimbabwe trade.


Ph.D. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2013.


European Union., Economic Partnership Agreement, Related Trade and Private Sector Support., Southern African Development Community., International trade., Civil society--Zimbabwe., Economics--Zimbabwe., Theses--Development studies.