No progress in improving human rights: US official situation

May 22, 2011 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

ZIMBABWE is still not eligible for benefits under the Africa Growth
Opportunity Act (Agoa) because it has not made any progress in promoting the
rule of law and political reforms, a senior United States official said last
week.

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.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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