The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has applauded Zimbabwe for ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), saying economic integration was key to the continent’s future prosperity.
Parliament this week ratified the AfCFTA, which seeks to create a single market for goods, services and movement of persons in order to deepen economic integration of the African continent.
In an interview from his base in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday, UNECA Regional Integration and Trade Division Coordinator Mr David Luke said 21 countries have so far ratified the agreement.
“The momentum behind the AfCFTA is unstoppable. As Africans, we have come to realise the potential of our continent, it is a growing market.
“Even as we integrate into the world economy through global value chains, our future prosperity lies in taking full advantage of trade opportunities across our continent,” he said.
One more ratification is now needed for the agreement to enter into force.
Mr Luke said a special African Union summit will be held in July this year to launch the beginning of trading under the AfCFTA.
“Negotiators are finalising some remaining technical work on this. However, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi are the southern African states that have not yet ratified. But their processes are underway,” he said.
Mr Luke in December last year applauded President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic for pushing initiatives that promote free trade and movement across borders in the Southern African region.
Zimbabwe, among other initiatives, is pushing for the establishment of one-stop border posts, and has been engaging South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia over the matter.
Plans are set for the establishment of one-stop border posts at Beitbridge, Victoria Falls and Kazungula, while the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post has seen traffic flow to the north increasing.
President Mnangagwa, who aims to transform Zimbabwe into a middle-class economy by 2030 anchored on the Zimbabwe is “Open for Business” mantra, has increased Government efforts on engaging and re-engaging with the international community.
The Government’s trade policy has also seen Zimbabwean envoys across the world pushing for trade deals with their host countries.
The AfCFTA is in accordance with the Pan-African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”, enshrined in Agenda 2063.
President Mnangagwa signed the agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) in March last year and 44 of its 55 member states also signed it.
Some of the objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations, contribute to the movement of capital and persons.
It seeks to facilitate investments, building on the initiatives and developments in the state parties for the eventual establishment at a later stage, a continental customs union and a continental single market.
It also seeks to enhance the competitiveness of the economies of state parties within the continent and at the global market and promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security.