Business Development

African Continental Free Trade Agreement Consultation Held


By Tatenda Mujeyi

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) held a consultative workshop to inform the process of implementing the AFCFTA in Harare today.

The consultative workshop is aimed at informing the process of implementing a national strategy on the incorporation of an AfCFTA national strategy for Zimbabwe.

“The National Consultative Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a platform where we are gathered to hear your views and contributions as part of the process of developing a National Strategy for the implementation of the AfCFTA,” the Secretary for Foreign affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou, said at the event

“As Government, we realised that the AfCFTA will not be self-implementing either. We therefore decided to develop a National Strategy to implement the Agreement. We are grateful to UNECA who responded to our call for technical and financial assistance to support us in developing the National Strategy,” Manzou said.

Zimbabwe signed into the AfCFTA in 2018 during the AU extraordinary session that adopted the agreement in Kigali Rwanda.

“I am sure by now, you are all aware, that Zimbabwe signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, during the AU Extraordinary Summit which adopted the Agreement,” the Secretary said.

“Zimbabwe participated in the negotiations of the AfCFTA legal instruments within a record time and the AfCFTA Agreement and its 3 Protocols were signed at a historic occasion in March 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. At that Summit 44 Heads of State and Government signed the Agreement,” Khauhelo Mawana – Senior Expert – Rules of Origin AfCfTA support unit said.

Zimbabwe became the 23rd signatory to the agreement following approval of the agreement by both the Senate and Parliament and subsequently by the President.

“Zimbabwe became the 23rd Member State to deposit the Instrument of Ratification with the Depository (Chair of the African Union Commission), on 24 May 2019. This followed the approval of the Agreement by both Houses of Parliament (the National Assembly and the Senate) on 18 and 28 March 2019, respectively, and subsequent accent by His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” The Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said.

“The Agreement Establishing the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims at creating a single Market for Goods and Services, facilitated by movement of Persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African Continent, in accordance with the Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa” enshrined in Agenda 2063.”

AfCFTA is the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and is expected to increase trade by 50%.

“In terms of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by over 50 percent through elimination of import duties,” Ambassador  Manzou said.

To date 55 nations have signed the AfCFTA agreement with anticipation that the remaining three nations will sign soon.

“To date 52 out of the 55 AU Member States have signed the AfCFTA Agreement. Everyone is looking forward to seeing the remaining three (Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria) coming on board so that all AU Member States move together as one Continent in an endeavour to create one African market,” Khauhelo Mawana – Senior Expert – Rules of origin, AfCFTA Support Unit said at the event.

The consultation is expected to create a forum from which Government, private players, UNECA representatives can map a way in fully strategising for Zimbabwe’s full engagement in the AfCFTA agreement.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende