Abolish trade protectionist policies, govt told

June 30, 2022

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU IN VIC FALLS

The United Nations (UN) has told the Zimbabwean government to abolish trade protectionist policies in order to compete in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Zimbabwe has adopted a number of trade protectionist policies in order to improve local industry capacity and limit consumer spending on luxury imports.

But the UN said this must stop in order to be competitive on the continent’s trade space.

UN Economic Commission for Africa programme manager Batanai Chikwene told delegates at the ZNCC 2022 Annual Congress Thursday that Zimbabwe should come out of its shells to start preparing to participate in the AfCFTA.

“Trade protectionism policies work in the short term but as we go, these policies will come short.

“Zimbabwe should go out there to play with others [in the AfCFTA] and even if we get injured while playing let it be so that we gain experience,” Chikwene  said.

“What needs to be done is to strengthen the country’s trading capacity, private sector; productive capacity and infrastructure to compete well on the AfCFTA.”

He said there is never a right time to start participating in the African Continental Free Trade Area and “the time is now”.

The AfCFTA is touted as Africa’s Marshall plan. It has the potential to create a continental free-trade zone with a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion, according to the African Union.

A report by the World Bank said the implementation of the single market, the largest trading bloc after the World Trade Organisation, will lift 100m Africans out of poverty and contributing US$450bn to Africa’s GDP by 2035.

Trading under the AfCFTA regime commenced on January 1, 2021.

As of May 2022, 54 of 55 member states of the African Union have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, and 43 have deposited their instrument of ratification with the Depositary of the Agreement.

The AfCFTA emphasises the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and the facilitation of free movement of people and labour, right of residence, right of establishment, and investment.

The trade bloc has put in place remedial action against imports which cause injury to domestic industries and trade remedies consist of anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures to guard  against fragile economies.

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