Story by Stanley James, Business Editor
TRADE experts say Zimbabwe should not lag behind in exploring the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as it presents opportunities for local companies to increase earnings.
Just a few years after its launch with a view of reducing trade barriers, harmonising trade regulations, and opening up regional markets, the over 50-member trading bloc is attracting the interest of local companies.
While reviews and assessments regarding the effectiveness of the multi-billion-dollar market are an ongoing process, the general sentiment is that the AfCFTA presents opportunities for the local industry to be competitive.
Trade Expert Mr Clement Henon noted, ‘‘The reality on the ground is that other African economies are forging ahead in tapping the market and the key question is the extent to which our local industry is therefore taking steps towards exploring the market base which presents a huge opportunity for growth.’’
Taking into account the expected benefits to be derived from the AfCFTA, the readiness of local industry to tap into the market is therefore under scrutiny.
Trade Expert Mr Cleopas Manyepwa said, ‘‘First and foremost the industry should focus on satisfying the local markets before considering the external markets, hence the need to boost capacity becomes imperative. Furthermore, the ability to scale up capacity for industries by introducing more incentives is another important aspect that forms the gateway for the ability of the industry to broaden the market base.’’
But, does Zimbabwe stand to benefit by fully taking part in the intercontinental free trade area?
Trade Facilitation Consultant Mr Joseph Musarara noted, ‘‘There are lots of benefits that can be accrued by local entities through taking part in the continental free trade, some of the positive results include more foreign currency earnings, technological advancement, a boost in skilled personnel, increased market share, access to global economies, lowering of production costs, economies of scale among others.’’
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a trading bloc established in 2018 and made up of most African economies.