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‘Revive manufacturing sector to reap from AfCTA’

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INTERNATIONAL industrial and trade policy expert Rongai Chizema (pictured) has urged Zimbabwe to industrialise in order to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

MARY MUNDEYA

AfCFTA, an ambitious trade pact to form the world’s largest free trade area by connecting almost 1.3 billion people across 54 African countries, came into effect in 2018, creating a massive single market for goods and services, in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa. It us also meant to reduce tariffs among members and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade.

Speaking this week at a policy dialogue workshop hosted by Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking (ZIST) and The NewsHawks on assessing the economic costs and benefits of Zimbabwe from AfCTA, Chizema bemoaned how Zimbabwe amplifies the vulnerability of commodity dependence through relying on exporting  semi-processed minerals and agricultural produce that if the country is to benefit from AfCTA’s bigger market, there was need to industrialise so that  raw materials are processed at home and are sold elsewhere as finished products.

“Southern African regional economies amplify the vulnerability of commodity dependence and Zimbabwe can demonstrate the apparent vulnerability because minerals account for 30% of all foreign currency earnings and as much as semi-processed tobacco is a key foreign exchange earner, the agriculture sector remains sub-optmally utilised to drive structural transformation that if the country is to benefit from AfCFTA’s bigger market, there is need for the country to industrialise and tap into regional value chain development and cross-border investment prospects.”

Chizema recommended that Zimbabwe develop the capability to produce finished products in large volumes through the diversification of the manufacturing sector base and availability of a predictable financial sector regime.

“We need as a country to develop the capability to produce finished products at scale, diversify our manufacturing sector base, create a predictable financial sector regime and create a very predictable foreign currency management regime to anchor production deficiency.”

If it properly positions itself, Zimbabwe through the AfCFTA, is set to tap into a US$3 trillion market of 1.27 billion people. This should be characterised by policy coherence and credibility that will enable it to revive its underutilised industries.

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