Zim industry urged to gear up for Continental Free trade area

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HARARE – Local industry should begin retooling to be able to produce competitive products in preparation for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Competition and Tariff Commission said on Sunday.

Last month, Zimbabwe joined several other African countries in signing the agreement which will result in the operationalization of the AfCFTA to make the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

AfCFTA could create an African market of over 1, 2 billion people with a Gross Domestic Product of $2, 5 trillion.

In a statement, the CTC said the AfCFTA is envisaged to provide an enlarged market access for Zimbabwean products hence the need for local industries to develop efficient production systems.

“While the agreement will come into effect once ratified by the minimum number of member states, local industry should now start to prepare for the implementation of the AfCFTA by retooling and recapitalising its plant and equipment, developing efficient production systems that will churn out competitive products in terms of quality and price as well as start identifying possible new markets and product requirements,” said the commission.

CTC also urged Government to support the private sector driven initiatives by providing mechanisms that buttress local industry competitiveness.

“Other supportive measures include availing favourable terms lines of credit, reducing or rationalising the costs of doing business in-country, and creation of a conducive environment for business for local and foreign companies to thrive in,” said the CTC.

Already 44 out of 55 African countries have signed up to establish the AfCFTA within 18 months.

However, two of the continent’s biggest economies Nigeria and South Africa did not sign the agreement when it was launched in Kigali citing need for further internal consultations.

The AfCFTA is a flagship project of the AU Agenda 2063, the long-term vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has potential to boost intra-Africa trade by 53 percent by eliminating import duties and non-tariff barriers.

The Free trade area will be operationalized when the agreement is ratified by Parliaments of at least 22 countries. – New Ziana

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