Zimbabwe was not eligible under the African Growth and Opportunity Act which offered preferential trade to African exports to the United States because of its interventionism and lack of fundamental freedoms.
United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell listed some of the reasons why Zimbabwe had to remain ineligible in a cable dispatched on 24 February 2005.
Viewing cable 05HARARE312, ZIMBABWE STILL AGOA INELIGIBLE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000312
STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO ALL AFRICAN DIPLOMATIC POSTS COLLECTIVE
ALSO PASS TO USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE STILL AGOA INELIGIBLE
REF: STATE 24616
¶1. Zimbabwe remains ineligible for African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits. We submit the following
input for the President,s Section 106 report to Congress.
¶2. Market Economy/Economic Reform/Elimination of Barriers to
U.S. Trade: Since the late-1990s, the government has
approached the economy through broad interventionism, with
parastatals serving as monopolistic middlemen for products
such as gold, tobacco and grain. In 2004, the government
suggested that it also would create parastatals to supervise
the production and export of platinum and cut flowers,
although it has not yet taken action. The government,s
disastrous fast track land reform program has undercut
productivity while failing to address the social justice
concerns it was alleged to address. Much of the
redistributed land went to government insiders rather than
small landholders or agricultural workers, and the latter
were given virtually no assistance in making the farms
¶3. Market Economy/Economic Reform/Elimination of Barriers to
U.S. Trade (continued): The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
continues to maintain an artificially strong currency through
enforcement of an official exchange rate including highly
restrictive foreign currency laws. This has had distorting
effects on the economy, proving a disincentive for exporters
while providing the government with a means to favor some
importers over others. It has also furthered corruption
through rent-seeking activities on the part of insiders with
access to hard currency. It has also led to a vibrant
parallel currency market. There are many barriers to trade,
including high duties for importers and exchange requirements
for exporters. The government is paying only a small portion
of its international arrears, which now exceed $2 billion.
Due to exchange rate management, annual inflation dropped
from 623 to 133 percent, but indications in early 2005 are
that inflation is increasing again. The government made no
progress privatizing inefficient parastatals in 2003. Growth
remains negative and an estimated two-thirds of the
working-age population is unemployed.
¶3. Rule of Law/Political Pluralism/Anti-Corruption: The
ruling ZANU-PF party maintains its grip on power through
fraud and repression, including violence. The 2000
parliamentary elections and 2002 presidential elections were
neither free nor fair. Freedom of association continues to
be routinely abused. Parliamentary elections are scheduled
for March 31, 2005 and the government has crafted a legal
framework for the elections which gives it unfair influence
over the process. The government has also used the court
system to intimidate opponents, for instance unsuccessfully
trying the opposition,s leader on treason charges for
opposing the Mugabe regime. Over the past year, the
government has also removed Harare,s elected opposition
party mayor and several opposition council members and
appointed a commission to run the city. Freedom of speech
and press is also routinely abused. In 2004, the government
passed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA), which tightly restricts the activities of the
independent media. Police continue to harass journalists,
and the only non-government daily newspaper remains closed.
The opposition is normally denied access to state-media.
During the country,s high-profile land redistribution
program, the government ignored rule-of- law and due process.
Continued harassment has also made it increasingly difficult
for civil society groups to function and parliament recently
passed a law that, if signed by President Mugabe, could
deregister many non-governmental groups while making it
illegal for NGOs to accept foreign donations.
¶4. Poverty Reduction: The government maintains several
programs that provide food or basic services to the poor.
However, these have had minimal effect compared to the
general thrust of the government,s economic policy, which
has caused most Zimbabweans to grow progressively poorer over
the past six years. Though half the population faces serious
food insecurity, the government has used its monopoly on
grain importation to manipulate food availability for
political ends. Many Zimbabweans take home but a fraction of
their 1997 real wages. Income taxes kick in at a monthly
salary of $20. Electricity and fuel are heavily subsidized
but often difficult to come by. Controls have failed to keep
prices in check.
¶5. Labor/Child Labor/Human Rights: Despite official
recognition of worker rights, the government continues to
exert heavy pressure on labor unions, limiting their freedom
of association and right to organize. Unions have been
denied routine meetings and necessary consultations with
constituents under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) .
Senior members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) have been arrested on spurious charges, some of them
later reporting physical abuse while in police custody. The
government,s human rights record remained poor, and it
continued to commit serious abuses. Security forces
committed at least one extrajudicial killing. Arbitrary
arrest and detention and lengthy pre-trial detention remained
problems. As detailed above, the government frequently
restricts fundamental freedoms.