SA trade delegates visit the Olivine soap making factory in Zimbabwe. (Malcom Sharara)
Harare - Zimbabwe and South Africa must improve bilateral relations to foster deeper cooperation and economic development between them, said the African Development Bank (AfDB).
In its latest report on Zimbabwe, the AfDB deplored the “love-hate relationship" that seems to exist between the two countries.
The AfDB was responding to a survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries.
It showed that South Africa unilaterally suspended its 1964 bilateral relations with Zimbabwe as well as some provisions of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Trade Protocol, arguing that this would prevent third-party imports from entering the country through Zimbabwe after benefiting from the Sadc rules of origin.
This move, said the AfDB, resulted in a significant decline in exports of manufactured goods from Zimbabwe to South Africa.
“To date, South Africa is only absorbing 12% of the Zimbabwe’s exports, a decline from a share of 30%,” said the bank.
It added that South Africa’s suspension of the bilateral agreement has had a negative impact on Zimbabwe’s export revenue, as SA remains Zimbabwe’s strategic trading partner.
In what seemed like retaliation, Zimbabwe also reintroduced tariffs on certain products originating from South Africa.
Zimbabwe is also concerned about the Brazilian chicken flooding its markets, disguised as South African products.
The AfDB said these developments between the two countries are not consistent with the promotion of a free trade area under the Sadc Trade Protocol.
Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.