Harare, Zimbabwe, June 19, 2019 (ECA) – “Zimbabwe, having the second largest platinum and chrome deposits and 5th largest lithium in the world can attract investment capital across the Continent as the barriers to free trade and investments are deconstructed through the AfCFTA,” said Said Adejumobi, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Director for Southern Africa.
He made the remarks at the start of a two-day National Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Zimbabwe on June 19, 2019.
Mr. Adejumobi stated that the goal of becoming an upper middle country by 2030 is attainable as macro-economic stability consolidates, the export base increases and the economy is diversified.
A good national strategy on the AfCFTA, he added, “with the committed implementation of the Strategy, can support Zimbabwe’s efforts of economic renewal and consolidation.”
The ECA official commended Zimbabwe for its bold step in ratifying the AfCFTA, which went into force on 30th May 2019 for the 24 countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification.
“It’s a step in the right direction and with our efforts here today and tomorrow, Zimbabwe is poised to be a winner in the AfCFTA initiative,” he said.
As Zimbabwe strives to improve its economic prospects after years of negative growth, Mr. Adejumobi stressed that the AfCFTA is a win-win situation for the regional and global commitments of Zimbabwe.
He pointed out that Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilization Programme "speaks to the imperatives of the AfCFTA” and that the “goals of export competitiveness, smart agriculture, beneficiation and value addition of the country’s mineral resources, resuscitation of the industrial sector, growth of tourism, and promoting a digital economy can seek value and expression in the AfCFTA.”
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, James Manzou noted that his government decided to develop a National Strategy to implement the Agreement because “we realized that the AfcFTA will not be self-implementing”
Mr. Manzou thanked the ECA for responding “to our call for technical and financial assistance to support us in developing the National Strategy.”
He said the AfCFTA National Strategy is expected to identify where comparative advantages lie for export diversification and priority value chains development in order to support industrialisation and maximize trade potential in the context of the Agreement.
He stressed that cross cutting issues to be considered in the strategy include gender mainstreaming, youth, environmental and climate change as well as new technological developments.
“Government is fully aware of the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector and understands the potential risks that come with trade liberalisation. Hence, we entered a reservation on the modalities for tariff liberalisation and we are making necessary negotiations with the other Member States for a longer tariff phase-down period of 15 years rather than 5 years for developing countries as per the adopted modalities”
On his part, Senior Expert on Rules of Origin, AfCFTA Support Unit, African Union Commission, Khauhelo Mawana, said that the AfCFTA National Forum is a very critical step in preparing private sector to do business in the AfCFTA. “We fully support your efforts in bringing together all players in trade to map out how they can benefit from this large market across the Continent”, he said.
Mr. Mawana commended Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and AU Partners, such as ECA who made invaluable inputs towards making the AfCFTA a reality. “In this instance, ECA is assisting the Member States with the drafting of National AfCFTA Strategies that should enable you to take full advantage that the AfCFTA brings about. We thank them for their support to the AUC as well as the Member States”, he said.
Dubbed, “Expanding Industrial and Trade Growth through the AfCFTA,” the forum is organized by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC).
The Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 30647, Lusaka, Zambia.
Mr. Bedson Nyoni
Senior Information Management Assistant
Economic Commission for Africa Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA)