Africa Moyo, Harare Bureau
As Zimbabwe joins 54 other African countries in commemorating Africa Day today, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Dr Mavis Sibanda says the bloc has helped in increasing the country’s sources of raw materials and markets for finished goods.
Further, the AU bloc has promoted cooperation in various spheres among member states.
Dr Sibanda said yesterday that economic benefits that have accrued from being a member of the African union (AU), have been immense.
“The fact that we are together with Africa, we are increasing our markets; markets for our products and sources of our raw materials, and where we are exporting to,” she said.
Dr Sibanda said the AU has also allowed member states to cooperate on a number of issues, which has helped transform several economies.
“We are working together. We are selling our products to Africa and we are also buying from Africa,” she said.
The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on March 21 last year by African Heads of State, is seen as a major step in trying to promote trade been AU member states.
The AfCFTA, which is primed to become the largest free trade bloc in the world, is expected to increase market efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business by offering opportunities for economies of scale.
It is also expected to ease trade and investment flows and shift the composition and direction of foreign direct investment flows into Africa.
Dr Sibanda said AfCFTA will help “open doors” for local products to dominate other African countries.
“We are seeing that the doors are opening for our products. We should look at it (AfCFTA) in a positive manner; looking at it in the sense that African goods are going to come into Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean goods are also going into Africa.
“We are looking at making sure that African countries should choose to buy our staff. We are looking at quality, improving the quality of our goods so that Zimbabwean products are a first choice for African countries. “So we should not look at it (AfCFTA) in a negative way,” said Dr Sibanda.
Economists say AfCFTA will accelerate intra-African trade and boost the continent’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
AfCFTA is a free trade area outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 49 of the 55 AU nations.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.