Historically, South Africa has been the major trading partner for Zimbabwe, in both imports and export terms. However, over the last 5 years business relations between Pretoria and Harare have turned sour, as a result of the latter resorting to the use of various techniques to minimise imports from her neighbour across the Limpopo River. The two countries have a long standing Bilateral Trade Agreement and are both members of SADC Free Trade Area, but confusion surrounding national objectives of industrialisation and market access provisions in trade agreements have resulted in tensions. As Zimbabwe designed and implemented various measures to control imports of finished goods into its home market -notably Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016- as an industrialisation strategy, the implications of such control measures on market access commitments embedded in trade agreements have come under fire.
Against this backdrop the seminar considered the Zimbabwe South Africa Bilateral Trade Agreement, SADC Protocol on Trade, and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap; the Structure and pattern of trade between the two countries; the Infrastructure challenges and the North-South Corridor; the “Beitbridge Factor” and other Non-Tariff Barriers; as well as the complexity of the political-economy situation in Zimbabwe.