Story by Owen Mandovha
ZIMBABWE’S readiness to trade within the Africa Continental Free Trade Area came under scrutiny at a seminar held by ZIMTRADE in Harare this Thursday with stakeholders raising concern over the ability of local products to effectively compete when the trading bloc becomes fully functional.
Zimbabwe is now part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) after depositing its legal instruments two years ago.
However, there has been limited trade taking place hence the country’s full participation in the continental trading block came under the spotlight at a seminar organised by ZIMTRADE in Harare this Thursday.
The issue of tariff liberalisation remains the elephant in the room according to the Competition and Tariffs Commission.
Competition and Tariffs Commission Senior Investigator, Mrs Chinyaradzo Phiri noted, “One of the conditions under the AfCFTA is for us to gradually reduce tariffs by 90 percent over five years and that is what we are doing to align the tariffs rules with what is required of us by the market.”
Fears of local products failing to meet the required standards due to outdated local manufacturing systems were also raised.
“If you go to many of these local companies they have not capitalized themselves to produce quality products so that they can compete enough and that is a demerit when it comes to us benefiting enough from our participation in that market,” said National Competitiveness Commission Ministry of Industry and Commerce Executive Director, Mr Philip Phiri.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Honourable David Musabayana is however satisfied with the progress made to ensure the country benefits from the AfCFTA membership.
“As the Zimbabwean government, everything is being done to ensure that our private sector participates in the continental market bloc hence the pursuit of several legal processes to align ourselves properly,” said Honourable Muchabayana.
“These engagements with stakeholders including Zimtrade are part of that steady progress we are making so that we benefit enough from being a member,” he added.
One of the anomalies causing Africa to lag in economic development is limited trade within the continent due to various trade barriers, with individual states trading more with the external world, hence the establishment of the AfCFTA to rectify this situation.