12 June 2019 – Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) will jointly hold the national consultative forum on; ‘The African continental free trade area: Developing a National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy for Zimbabwe’ from 19th to 20th June, 2019.
The key objective of the forum is to consult national stakeholders in making inputs in developing Zimbabwe’s national AfCFTA strategy. Once completed, the AfCFTA implementation strategy will complement the broader trade policy of the country and identify Zimbabwe’s key trade opportunities, current constraints, and steps required for it to take full advantage of national, regional and global markets in the AfCFTA context.
The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) entered into force on 30th May 2019 for the 24 countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification. This date marked 30 days after the minimum threshold of 22 countries had deposited their ratification instruments with the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson – the designated depositary for this purpose, as stipulated in Article 23 of the Agreement. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was launched on 21st March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Zimbabwe deposited its instruments of ratification on 24 May 2019.
The main objective of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, thus paving way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. The AfCFTA is expected to be a key engine of economic growth, industrialisation and sustainable development in Africa as stated by the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 for “The Africa We Want”.
The forum will feature presentations from national trade experts, representatives of ECA, AUC as well as prominent nominated experts. The agenda will also include a round-table session at which experts from key economic and social ministries will be invited to give their perspectives on the AfCFTA, lessons learnt from regional trade integration and provide policy direction on the implementation of the AfCFTA in Zimbabwe.
The forum will also feature panel discussions and presentations from representatives of business associations and organisations as they provide practical expert analysis of the importance and relevance of the AfCFTA and its opportunities to support sustainable development in Zimbabwe.
The meeting is also expected to consolidate proposals from various stakeholders on the effective implementation strategy of the AfCFTA and guide the composition of the National Committee on the AfCFTA, which will oversee the implementation of the Agreement in Zimbabwe. The Forum is part of a wider programme to develop a national AfCFTA implementation strategy, which includes a nation-wide consultation.
The national implementation strategy, being developed by African countries, will focus on the countries’ priority interests within the continental and global development agenda, as part of a wider project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. ECA appreciates the financial support of the European Union on the AfCFTA project, and the collaboration with the other partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to identify the key elements to be considered in the AfCFTA implementation strategies.
United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA)