By Rudo Saungweme
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) which was signed and endorsed by the Government of Zimbabwe is critical to the Zimbabwe`s reform agenda which includes, The Transitional Stabilisation (TSP) Programme, National Trade Policy (NTP) and National Industrial Policy (NIP) among others.
Again Zimbabwe, through its membership of SADC,COMESA and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA),Zimbabwe is already effecting regional economic assimilation programmes that are connected to and anticipated to contribute to the subsequent attainment of the Africa-wide continental initiatives such as the African Union`s Agenda 2063 and the launch of the AEC, the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD), the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
The TSP reform agenda which goes hand in hand with AfCTA Agreement expectations was established to stabilise the macro-economy, the financial sector, to introduce necessary policy and institutional reforms so as to transform to a private sector led economy, launching quick-wins to simulate growth. This reform agenda acts as an anchor policy upon which relevant key policies are drawing their thrusts and directions from, with the main objective of reversing deindustrialisation while at the same time accelerating industrial growth.
The NTP Policy 2019-2023’s objective states that, “Towards a Transformed and Internationally-Competitive Economy Driven by Robust Domestic and International Trade (ZNTP) and Zimbabwe National Export Strategy 2019-2023 states that “Towards Investment, Innovation and Industrial Development Policy 2019-2023.
Trade is considered a key engine for driving sustainable development in Zimbabwe and is expected to contribute significantly to employment creation, poverty eradication and more importantly the generation of the much needed foreign currency.
Zimbabwe is moving towards an export-led industrialisation plan targeting to achieve annual export growths of ten percent for goods and 15 percent for services exports by 2023.
Ensuring success and heightening benefits from participating in regional and international trade, economic, industrial and trade policies and strategies are deliberately designed to address structural inefficiencies and other weaknesses undermining local and the holistic manner approach.
Trade policies are further designed to facilitate and enhance trade development and export promotion to expand market access for goods and services and more effectively exploit trade and business opportunities that the country is part to.
According to a document prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled National Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Implementation Strategy for Zimbabwe,
“The ZNDP, together with its subordinate sub-sectorial strategies, is guiding the direction and development of industry based on investment-led and innovation-led industrialisation, with a deliberate emphasis on export growth. 11 pillars for industrialisation and broad strategic instruments and policy interventions that will facilitate the growth and development of the industrial sector are identified,” states the document.
Another policy that is synonymous to the AfCTA is that of the National Gender Policy which puts strong emphasis on gender equality and equity and predicts a “gender-just society in which men and women enjoy equity, and benefit as equal partners in the development of the country.”
Knowing that women`s economic empowerment is key to the country`s economic growth, Zimbabwe has a strong policy and legislative framework in place to enhance women`s economic prospects, as an inherent element of gender equality under the AfCTA Agreement.
The AfCTA agreement if fully implemented stands to create the world`s largest free trading zone covering over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion.