INDUSTRY leaders in Zimbabwe have begun consultations to examine the market access offer as the country gears to tap into wider economic benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The country, having ratified the AfCFTA agreement, is in the process of coming up with a schedule of tariff offers (market access offer), as one of the requirements under the AfCFTA deal, which came into force in January this year.
A market access offer consists of lists of products that the country would remove tariffs and duties in the implementation of the historic AfCFTA Agreement.
“Simply, it means the country would be offering to open up its market to Africa on products falling under the market access offer schedule,” the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the biggest industry grouping in the country, said.
“The products will not pay duties and tariffs when being imported into the country.”
CZI in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) on Wednesday began rolling out organised consultations with a webinar on AfCFTA market access offer.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade together with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Organisation of Women in International Trade (OWIT) Zimbabwe Chapter, also held a virtual seminar to demystify the AfCFTA deal for women-led micro-small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa.
The Tuesday forum highlighted the need to urgently build domestic production and export capacity as well as raising awareness for the MSMEs sector given its huge contribution to the economy.
According to the schedule by CZI on its official Twitter handle, the discussions are being held on a value chain basis with key focus areas covering the soya to cooking oil value chain, wheat to bread value chain and the beverages value chain.
Under the AfCFTA, Zimbabwe has agreed to eliminate duties on 90 percent of its products over a certain period of time.
“Thus, the ministry of Industry and Commerce, in conjunction with CZI and the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC), are carrying out consultations with industry to finalise on products that will be on the market access offer schedule,” said CZI.
The industry body urged its members to fully participate in these consultations and have full information and knowledge about the AfCFTA and which products will be opened to the rest of the continent.
“Business can also have the opportunity to justify exclusion of certain products under the offer, if they feel that their sectors are not ready to open up, but being mindful of the need to open up during the grace period given to the country,” said CZI.