Local industry urged to brace for continental competition

Local industry should focus on retooling in order to produce competitive products in preparation for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Competition and Tariffs Commission has said.

Garikai Fadzi zifmnews.com

Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa 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.

The agreement was signed during the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Kigali, Rwanda.

AfCFTA has the potential to create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a Gross Domestic Product of USD2.5 trillion.

The Competition and Tariffs Commission said the AfCFTA was 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 recapitalizing 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.

It also urged central government to support private sector driven initiatives by providing mechanisms which increase local industry’s competitiveness.

Already 44 out of 55 African countries including Zimbabwe 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 saying there was 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% through the elimination of 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.