United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

A high-level workshop will be held to review Zimbabwe’s strategy on implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said Monday.

The AfCFTA Strategy Validation Workshop, which runs from October 2 to 3 under the theme “Expanding Industrial and Trade Growth through the AfCFTA,” aims to review and finalize Zimbabwe’s AfCFTA strategy and its implementation plan.

The government of Zimbabwe will be represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which is co-organizing the workshop with the African Union Commission and the ECA, it was noted.

It will be preceded by a one-day meeting on Tuesday that aimes to sensitize Zimbabwe’s private sector involvement on the continental free trade pact, the ECA said in a statement.

“The overall objectives of the two-day workshop are to review the country’s draft AfCFTA strategy and implementation plan in terms of content, objectives, proposed actions, and implementation framework,” the ECA said.

The workshop is also expected to “review the proposed Terms of Reference for Zimbabwe’s AfCFTA Committee to ensure they provide a solid foundation for the required leadership that will lead the implementation of the AfCFTA in the country.”

According to the ECA, the private sector sensitization meeting “will tackle topics that will help the business community understand the AfCFTA Agreement, the protocol on trade in goods, dispute settlement, Zimbabwe’s emerging schedule of tariff concessions (CTC), as well as understanding the protocol on trade in services and the ancillary instruments of the AfCFTA.”

The high-level national meeting is also expected to review the online portal for tariff offers, the Pan-African Digital Payment System, and the dashboard of the African Union (AU)’s Trade Observatory, among others, it was noted.

The AfCFTA entered into force on May 30, 2019 for those countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification before this date. Including Zimbabwe, 27 AU member countries have so far deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification to the AU Commission.

Batanai Chikwene, an Economic Affairs Officer at the ECA, said that the private sector meeting, which will be held on the October 1, is a “timely gathering” in a bid to streamline national and all sorts of concerted efforts for Zimbabwe to harness the numerous potentials of the free trade pact.

“It is very important that the AU Commission, the ECA and the government of Zimbabwe are working together to unpack the AfCFTA which, if fully implemented will no doubt change the face of the continent and the lives of its people for the better,” Chikwene said.

According to the ECA, the AfCFTA is one of the milestone trade policy developments in Africa which is expected to change the way Africa trades and catalyze transformation in a way trade policy has not done before. Enditem

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