INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Getting Agoa On Zimbabwe's Radar

Published: Mon 29 Mar 2004 12:26 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
291226Z Mar 04
UNCLAS HARARE 000535
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
AF/EPS FOR DAVID KRZYWDA
DOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON ELAB PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: Getting AGOA on Zimbabwe's Radar
1. (SBU) Summary: Recent attempts to arouse local
interest in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
have met with mixed, but mostly positive, results. Post-
sponsored AGOA workshops in Harare and Bulawayo drew
seventy local firms, five Industry/Trade Ministry
officials and the Managing Director of the GOZ's Export
Credit Guarantee Corporation. This was Post's first
orchestrated effort to show local government and industry
what they are missing out on by Zimbabwe's failure to
qualify for AGOA. End summary.
Avid Local Interest in AGOA
---------------------------
2. (SBU) Post teamed with ZimTrade, the GOZ's export
promotion body, to host AGOA seminars in Zimbabwe's two
largest cities on March 23-24. At the recommendation of
the Amembassy Pretoria tradeoff, we invited Jack Kipling,
RSA Clothing Export Council Chairman. He spoke glowingly
of AGOA as the "wind beneath the wings" of the RSA
apparel sector, impressing upon Zimbabwean audiences how
the Act had transformed his country's approach to trade.
Reps of the seventy firms who attended the sessions
repeatedly asked GOZ officials present why they were not
doing more to bring Zimbabwe into AGOA. It was an
awkward position for these GOZ bureaucrats, who asserted
that only politicians make these decisions, or that the
GOZ's new monetary policy was now improving the country's
prospects of qualifying for AGOA. In fact, ZimTrade reps
told us several GOZ hardliners had pressured them to call
off the seminars. The GOZ propaganda mill's spin was
that Zimbabwe now nearly qualified for AGOA (fabricating
a quote by Embassy econoff), but more constructively,
that the trade act could be something good for the
country.
Comment
-------
3. (SBU) Given that Zimbabwe falls woefully short of
AGOA's qualifying criteria, Post pondered carefully
whether to arrange these events. It marked the first
time we have trumpeted AGOA's attributes here in such a
visible manner, and it carried certain risks. In the
end, we decided it was better to walk the fine line and
try to help Zimbabweans appreciate what they are missing
out on - without resorting to Schadenfreude. We also did
not want Zimbabweans to view their country's exclusion as
a broad trade sanction against its population or business
community, so we spelled out the advantages of Zimbabwe's
existing Generalized System of Preferences privileges in
the seminars. Thankfully, our worst apprehensions - that
the contentious official media would belittle AGOA as
imperial conquest, as it sometimes does to the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) - were not
borne out. It seemed the very visible participation of
GOZ officials helped insulate us to some extent.
Further, their enthusiastic participation enabled us to
drive a wedge between GOZ hardliners and moderates.
Given AGOA's upbeat reception in this first "trial
balloon," we will look for other inventive ways to plug
the trade act. We also encourage U.S.-based officials to
hold out AGOA as a potential carrot in public
pronouncements about Zimbabwe.
Sullivan
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media