Zimbabwe is scaling up efforts to take a strategic position in the exploitation of the 1,2 billion people African market that is set to be created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
This was said by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo during an extraordinary session of the executive council to discuss the AfCFTA, held virtually yesterday.
As a key enabler in attaining an upper middle income economy by 2030, Zimbabwe has plans to boost the manufacturing industry and its export basket in terms of volume and variety.
Under its economic revival strategy, the manufacturing industry has a critical role to play in satisfying the local and export markets.
Addressing fellow African ministers responsible for trade during the session, Minister Moyo said: “We note the 1,2 billion people market that the AfCFTA is creating, which companies should exploit to derive benefits of economies of scale.
“Rather than bemoaning the negative effects and threats arising from AfCFTA liberalisation, the private sector should see opportunities and take advantage of the AfCFTA preferential market access,” said Dr Moyo.
Despite the adversities that included sanctions, droughts, Cyclone Idai, external debt and the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe was prepared to start trading under the AfCFTA in 2021 as scheduled.
“We are confident that by then, Zimbabwe would have finalised its tariff offer for submission to the AUC hence our preparedness to take all necessary steps to fully participate in trading, both in goods and in services under the AfCFTA,” said Dr Moyo.
He took time to explain to colleagues the steps Zimbabwe had taken in boosting the local industry and the economy in general.
Zimbabwe had undertaken reforms aimed at promoting the ease of doing business by addressing regulatory bottlenecks and streamlining bureaucratic processes.
“The country now has a one stop investment services centre under the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), which works to consolidate and simplify processes.”
“The Zimbabwe Government is also setting up a Trade Remedies Unit at the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) to deal with unfair trade practices in international trade.
“Training is underway covering processes, procedures and remedies to safeguard local industries from unfair trade practises arising from trade liberalisation,” said Dr Moyo.
Zimbabwe had already set a robust economic reform agenda to create an enabling macro-economic environment for the private sector to take advantage of opportunities under the AfCFTA.
“Key macro-fiscal reforms have been implemented, anchored on the national Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) since 2018, whose gains will be consolidated in the successor blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1): 2021 to 2025.
“This NDS1 aims at realising the country’s Vision 2030 to achieve a prosperous and empowered upper middle income society by 2030.”
Dr Moyo said as Africa moved towards operationalisation of the AfCFTA, there was need for individual states and collectively as the African Union, to apply minds to all outstanding modalities and other technical issues ahead of commencement of trade by January 2021 as scheduled.
In his remarks Dr Moyo also implored the African Union and member states to take the necessary steps to silence the guns in accordance with commitment made in Zambia during the Peace and Security Council retreat in 2016.