Local firms brace for the African Continental Free Trade Area

By ZBC Reporter
LOCAL companies have been challenged to fully recapitalise operations and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area which becomes effective in July this year.
Accessing 22-member countries with a wide market of over 1.2 billion people worth 2.5 trillion United States dollars is an opportunity being presented to local firms after Zimbabwe joined the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) in February this year.
With the government declaring 2020 as a year of trade and productivity local companies are pushing for competitiveness against regional firms.
AFCTA senior expert responsible for trade in goods, Dr Halima Noor Abdi told the Zbc News on Tuesday that local firms should not lag behind but focus on being innovative and recapitalise operations ahead of July this year.
“Zimbabwe is now a member and this is a clear testimony of the need by the local firms to focus on those concepts to boost production and become competitive,” said Dr Abdi.
Zimbabwe is among other countries expected to benefit from the free trade area whose mandate is to promote investment, reduce cost of doing business across Africa and boost intra-continental trade.
AfCFTA is a free trade area which as of 2018 includes 28 countries. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.