Zimbabwe will continue to implement robust economic, trade and investment policies in its quest to fulfil the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the President has said.
In his address to the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) on the AfCFTA held virtually yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the country had streamlined regulatory and bureaucratic bottlenecks to improve ease of doing business.
The private sector was preparing for opportunities that would accrue from being party to the free trade area.
“Zimbabwe continues to implement robust economic, trade and investment policies inspired by principles, objectives and spirit of the AfCTA,” said the President.
“Motivated by my Government’s economic reform agenda, the private sector is readying itself to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.
“As we modernise and industrialise, I exhort our countries to begin to adjust our tariff regimes in line with the envisaged objectives of the AfCFTA.”
African countries, the President said, must strengthen the capacity building of local institutions to facilitate smooth trade under the facility.
“Equally, due attention must be given to the mainstreaming of trade remedies as a necessary tool to safeguard our respective industries from unfair trade practices arising from trade liberalisation.”
He said the free trade agreement should be a vehicle to empower youths and women in entrepreneurship.
“The AfCFTA should be used as a vehicle to propel innovation and inventions of goods and services from the continent, which answer to the unique needs of our respective people, leveraging on the value addition of our rich natural resources.
“Riding on this free trade agreement, our women and youth must be facilitated to create the bedrock of a new breed of entrepreneurs, who ultimately birth new African multinationals.
“Cumulatively, our collective efforts must see improved intra-Africa trade and greater pride in the products, goods and services produced by Africa for Africa.”
President Mnangagwa said he was pleased with the progress made in efforts to operationalise the AfCFTA in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In spite of the distressing impact of the pandemic, we are encouraged that the spirit of unity, collaboration and cooperation within our continental body continues to be enhanced.
“This has seen us achieve commendable progress in implementing decisions of Summit, in relation to the AfCFTA.”
The President extended his gratitude to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for the support they provided to Zimbabwe in developing a National Strategy for the AfCFTA.
In his closing remarks African Union chair president Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said by operationalising the AfCFTA, Africa was on the cusp of history.
“Now that we have come to the end of our summit we now have an opportunity to reflect on the journey that we have traversed,” said president Ramaphosa.
“The coming into effect of the AfCFTA is a historic milestone in the long walk towards African integration.
“At its core is a developmental approach that seeks to liberalise trade to build value chains to overcome the infrastructure deficit of the continent.”
President Ramaphosa said the AfCFTA brings with it the promise of new beginnings and increased opportunities for Africa and its people.
“We reaffirm our optimism that the AfCTA will leverage on these opportunities by attracting more foreign trade, more direct investment and expedite the implementation of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery plan.”
The summit continues today.