Senior Business Reporter
LOCAL industry, working with the parent ministry of Industry and Commerce, has started consulting on the market access offer Zimbabwe must present to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which the country has already signed and ratified.
AfCFTA is the African continent’s most ambitious integration initiative, embedded in the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and its main objective is to create a single continental market with free movement of people and investments.
The continental free trade area, which opens up a huge market of about 1,3 billion people, came into force in January this year.
The majority of members have since submitted schedules of concessions and commitments.
Fifty four out of 55 African countries have signed and ratified the continental trade deal, providing access to a market with gross domestic product (GDP) of US$3,4 trillion.
Latest official reports indicate that 41 countries, out of 54 that have signed and ratified the AfCFTA and have already submitted schedules of tariff concessions while 34 nations have handed in schedules on tariff commitments.
Zimbabwe is in the process of coming up with a schedule of market access tariff offers as required under the AfCFTA.
A market access tariff offer consists of lists of products the country will have to remove tariffs and duties on in the implementation of the continental free trade pact.
Thus, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Competition and Tariff Commission have started consulting on products to make the AfCFTA market Access offer.
Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza recently urged the domestic industry players to actively provide input into the consultative processes on national market tariff offer, so as not to be caught off guard.
“Simply, the country would be offering to open up its market to Africa on products falling under the Market Access Offer Schedule.
“These products will not pay any tariffs or duties when being imported into the country,” CZI said.
Under AfCFTA, Zimbabwe agreed to gradually remove duties on 90 percent of products over a certain time.
Private sector has been implored to participate in the process which entails products and service that it can offer and those that can be excluded.
It is projected that the free trade area will increase intra-Africa trade from existing levels of about 13 to 25 percent or even more than through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation.