THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) today hosts a high-level conference in Bulawayo aimed at unpacking the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and explaining how local businesses could benefit from it.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava is the guest speaker. The other key speakers are representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Finance and Economic Development, AfreximBank, ZimTrade, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene who will attend the conference virtually.
The AfCFTA was operationalised in January this year and creates an open market of about 1,3 billion people with an estimated combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$3,4 trillion.
Zimbabwe is keen to tap into the wider regional market having ratified the treaty as part of efforts to grow its export market.
ZNCC Matabeleland regional manager, Mr Mduduzi Ncube said preparations were going on well with more subscription from the business community.
He said the event will be hosted at a local hotel for physical engagements while the rest of the delegates would engage virtually in line with Covid-19 mitigation protocols.
“The event has actually received resounding support from stakeholders as we are seeing more stakeholders from as far as Harare who are coming to attend this event,” he said.
“People have even been allowed to book at discounted rates in advance especially if they are coming for the ZNCC event.”
Mr Ncube said the business community was excited about the programme as it seeks to engage experts and realise the benefits of the historic continental trade deal. This includes understanding the mechanisms AfreximBank has designed in support of the AfCFTA and the insurance of goods that will be moving across the continent.
African governments have exhibited political will-power prior to the commencement of official trading and through subsequent ratification.
However, a range of factors still need to be fine-tuned and properly aligned before Zimbabwe and the entire region could enjoy the fruits of an integrated free trade Africa.
Scaling up production and enhancing product competitiveness, investing in quality and standards, technology and submission of tariff offers in line with national interest by relevant authorities, remain key outstanding points.
In this context, Mr Ncube said their broad membership was looking forward to getting answers and leads to improved export business.