Responding to a question during a teleconference on Tuesday, deputy assistant US trade representative for Africa Constance Hamilton said America would not remove economic sanctions against Zimbabwe until there was a definite move towards democracy.
“State department officials said that as long as human rights violations, land seizures, intimidation of those participating in the political process continue, the sanctioned individuals and entities on the list who continue to perpetuate and benefit from these acts are unlikely to be removed,” she said.
Hamilton’s brief centres on advancing bilateral, regional and multilateral US trade and economic cooperation initiatives with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
However, Minister of Trade and Industry Professor Welshman Ncube explained that Zimbabwe had never been a participating member of Agoa since the legislation’s inception.
“Zimbabwe was excluded in the whole process a decade ago owing to disagreement between the US government and the then Zanu PF-led government,” said Ncube.
“There was no GPA when Zimbabwe was excluded for political reasons,” said Ncube, adding that the country has never sought to apply to join in the Agoa forum.
Hamilton’s statement comes at a time when Zambia will host the 2011 Agoa Forum in a fortnight’s time. It will be the centrepiece of the US government’s trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa.
The 2011 forum marks the 10th year that government officials, business leaders, and civil society from African countries and the US will convene to promote trade, business, and investment opportunities that sustain economic development on the continent.
The 2011 Forum’s theme is Enhanced Trade through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.
This year’s forum promises to attract trade ministers and delegations from the 37 Agoa-eligible African countries, as well as a large US government delegation expected to be led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US trade representative Ronald Kirk.
The forum will bring together over 800 participants.