10 June 2021 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and partners – including ZimTrade and the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) - have launched the ‘Unpacking the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Businesses in Zimbabwe’ training programme which is taking place over the course of five days in June and July 2021.
AfCFTA - the world’s largest free-trade area - started trading on 1 January 2021, creating a market of 1.2 billion people and the eighth economic bloc in the world with a $3-trillion combined GDP, that is expected to more than double by 2050. The Agreement is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 which has the key objective of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening the continents common voice in policy space and global trade negotiations. As of December 2020, 54 of the 55 AU Member States had signed the Agreement, and 33 had deposited instruments of ratification.
Launched at the start of the implementation of Zimbabwe’s first National Development Strategy (NDS1), AfCFTA holds great potential to accelerate Zimbabwe’s implementation and achievement of both the NDS and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through increased trade and the resultant increases in jobs, income, foreign currency and economic growth.
The private sector is a key stakeholder in the implementation of the AfCFTA, however a brief assessment of companies by the ZNCC highlighted that many businesses had limited knowledge of the Agreement and how to leverage the trade opportunities it offers.
“Trade facilitation is not the agenda of government alone, but as private sector we are expected to be the major players cum beneficiaries of the whole agenda” stated Dr Manzungu, ZNNC President during the event launch.
The five day training programme will therefore focus on enhancing business knowledge of the trade opportunities within the AfCFTA and regional value chains; help businesses identify areas of competitiveness; enhance understanding of Non-Tariff Barriers and Rules of Origin; train businesses on market access conditions; and provide an update on Zimbabwe’s National AfCFTA Strategy and implementation.
UNDP is providing support for AfCFTA activities under the strategic partnership that was signed between UNDP Africa and the AfCFTA Secretariat on the 29th of March 2021, to promote trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socioeconomic recovery. Ms Madelena Monoja, UNDP Resident Representative (O.I.C) reiterated the importance of this partnership during the launch, “UNDP believes that beyond enhancing intra-Africa trade through trade liberalization, the AfCFTA is a veritable tool in redefining and rebalancing Africa’s role in the multilateral trading system.”
The UNDPs presence in most African countries, along with its proven record of policy advocacy and capacity development will also play an important role in the implementation of the AfCFTA.
From this training, UNDP and its partners are looking to enhance the private sectors ability to contribute to, and benefit from, opportunities arising out of the AfCFTA for the good of t both the NDS and SDG ambitions as the country moves towards Vision 2030.
As the United Nations lead agency on international development, UNDP works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities, and to build resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our work is concentrated in three focus areas: sustainable development, democratic governance and peace building, and climate and disaster resilience.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit making membership-based organisation that provides services designed to support its members in business development. As an independent organisation, the ZNCC has represented the interests of its members for over 100 years especially through advocacy and provides a focus on business empowerment as the engine for economic growth. ZNCC also aims to be a leader in business development in the national economy and a channel of communication between business and the various authorities in Zimbabwe.
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