Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
THERE is a need to continuously capacitate local industries on how to capitalise on trade agreements to which Zimbabwe is a signatory so as to position the country to realise full economic benefits from such treaties.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube, said this yesterday while officiating at the ongoing Trade Tariff Conference hosted by Competition Tariff Commission (CTC) in Bulawayo.
Running under the theme: “Unpacking Zimbabwe’s Trade Agreements and Benefits that can Accrue to Local Industry,” the conference seeks to enhance appreciation of trade agreements and how these can benefit local businesses.
Minister Ncube said increased trade was important to Zimbabwe in its journey towards realising the aspirations of Vision 2030, which aims at attaining an upper middle-income economy.
She said the ambitious policy can only succeed when the country has a proactive and effective private sector that ensures conversion of envisaged trade benefits into reality. “The continuous capacitation of industry with vital information in trade agreements that Zimbabwe is signatory to, is of paramount importance,” said Minister Ncube. “It aids in positioning the country on an advantageous position as you, our local industry, will be able to strategically position yourselves and utilise the trade agreement platforms availed by Government.
“My ministry urges you to keep abreast of the developments in bilateral, regional and international trade agreements in fulfilment of national guiding policies National Industrial Development Policy, NDS1 and Vision 2030.”
Zimbabwe is a signatory to several trade agreements at regional and multilateral levels. These include agreements under the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), European Union-Eastern and Southern African Economic Partnership Agreements, United Kingdom-Eastern and Southern African Economic Partnership Agreements (UK-ESA EPA), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the recent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Minister Ncube said to maximise benefits from these agreements, it is critical that local industries be well informed on key issues such as tariffs, unfair trade practices and rules of origin, standards, export opportunities, trade facilitation, resource mobilisation, threats and mitigatory measures available.
“This assists local industry to tap into the opportunities, empower them to plan for future production capacity and attendant future investment requirements,” she said.
Government, in its journey to attain Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), said the minister, has anchored strategy on transforming the doing business climate in line with the declared priorities of Vision 2030, which include stimulating investments and re-engagement with the international community.
NDS1 (2021-2025) was launched on January 1, 2021 as the economic blue print running under the theme: “Towards a prosperous and empowered upper middle-income society by 2030.”
Minister Ncube said in the context of the national vision, the Government is working towards building a new Zimbabwe, with a thriving open economy, promoting export led growth, industrialisation, value addition, and capable of creating opportunities for both local and foreign investors and creating employment for the country’s populace.
She said the Government through CTC was developing a National Trade Tariff Policy aiming to build fully integrated value chains, and a competitive and productive industry sector forming the basis for domestic and international trade.
In his address, CTC assistant director Mr Isaac Tausha said pursuant to the objectives of NDS1 and ensuring that local industry takes advantage of the existing trade agreements, the conference is being organised to conscientise industry of existing trade agreements Zimbabwe is party to and how best these can be exploited for the country’s benefit.
CTC is a statutory body under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and established through the Competition Act [Chapter 14:28]. Its mandate is to promote and maintain fair competition and trade practices in Zimbabwe. It administers competition policy and law and trade tariffs policies in the country. – @SikhulekelaniM1.