Portugal and Zimbabwe Strengthen Ties Amid Economic Challenges

The outgoing Portuguese ambassador pays a farewell visit to President Mnangagwa and praises the friendship and collaboration between the two countries.

by Motoni Olodun

Portugal and Zimbabwe have reaffirmed their strong bilateral relations and expressed their commitment to cooperate in various fields, according to a report by The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper. The outgoing Portuguese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Miguel De Calheiros Velozo, paid a farewell courtesy call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Harare on Wednesday.

The ambassador said the two countries enjoyed excellent relations that were nurtured through diplomatic exchanges and trade partnerships. He said he had accomplished his mission of strengthening ties between Zimbabwe and Portugal during his tenure, which was marked by some difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the distance from his family.

President Mnangagwa thanked the ambassador for his efforts to enhance the friendship and collaboration between the two nations. He also commended Portugal for its support of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and reform agenda, as well as its solidarity in the fight against the pandemic.

Zimbabwe and Portugal established diplomatic relations in 1980, soon after Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain. Since then, the two countries have maintained cordial and mutually beneficial ties, especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism, mining, and education.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the total trade volume between Zimbabwe and Portugal was US$3.2 million in 2022, with Zimbabwe exporting mainly tobacco and importing mainly machinery and equipment from Portugal. The two countries also have a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, which was signed in 2009 and came into force in 2012.

Zimbabwe and Portugal are both members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Union (EU) partnership, which aims to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction in the ACP countries. The partnership also provides preferential trade access for ACP products to the EU market.

However, Zimbabwe and Portugal also face some common challenges, such as the impact of climate change, the threat of terrorism, and the need to diversify their economies and create more jobs for their young populations. Both countries have also been affected by the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, which has reduced their revenues and increased their debts.

Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by 5.5% in 2023, slightly higher than previously forecast, but lower than the 6.5% growth recorded in 2022, according to the World Bank. The bank attributed the slowdown to the anticipated drought induced by El Nino, as well as the persistent foreign currency shortages and inflationary pressures.

Portugal’s economy is expected to grow by 4.8% in 2023, after contracting by 7.6% in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to the International Monetary Fund. The fund said the recovery would depend on the successful implementation of the vaccination program, the easing of lockdown measures, and the effective use of the EU recovery funds.

Despite the economic challenges, Zimbabwe and Portugal have expressed their optimism and determination to overcome the difficulties and seize the opportunities for further cooperation and development. The two countries have also pledged to continue supporting each other in the international arena and advancing the common interests of Africa and Europe.

Source: The Herald


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