Thursday, 20 February 2020 06:37

Zim African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)

Zimbabwe has waived earlier objections to its immediate implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) protocols to ensure Africa achieves trade growth envisaged under the pact, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

Zimbabwe last year ratified AfCTA, which became effective mid-2019, but had requested for a 15 year waiver to allow the country to industrialise and be able to fully participate under the terms of the agreement.

This was after experts strongly argued the economy was too fragile to implement the trade deal immediately as it was still reeling under Western sanctions and recovering from decades of mismanagement.

But President Mnangagwa told the on-going 33rd African Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa that Zimbabwe will in the interest of the continent, move together with others in implementing the protocol while finding its feet.

“Zimbabwe is cognisant that the AfCTA is one of the Agenda 2063 flagship projects which has its success anchored on the commitment and political will of members states. We are also aware that challenges relating to implementation modalities will need to be addressed if we are to achieve the desired outcomes,” President Mnangagwa said.

“Subsequently, however, in the spirit of moving forward and our commitment to the principles that inspired the establishment of the AfCTA, we are prepared to move on the basis of the agreed collective position, therefore Zimbabwe is now on board.”

Zimbabwe’s decision is in sync with the wishes of new African Union chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa who took over the reins of the continental body on Sunday, stressing the need to ensure full implementation of the trade agreement.

The AfCTA, which will be headquartered in Ghana, has to date been ratified by 33 of the AU’s 55 member countries.

The pact created a single market for goods and services, allows free movement of people and will eventually be upgraded to a Customs Union with a common tariff for the continental grouping.

It is expected to create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a Gross Domestic Product of $2.5 trillion.

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