The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (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), AfCTFA 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.
During the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government which took place in December 2020, the AfCFTA Secretariat was directed to commence work on drafting a Protocol on Women in Trade. The goal is to fully integrate this Protocol into the AfCFTA. Meanwhile, the AfCFTA Secretariat and UNDP Futures Report: Making the AfCFTA Work for Women and Youth profiled women and youth-owned enterprises that are already exporting within African markets. It confirmed the potential of women and youth in the intra-African market and showcased opportunities for enhanced support while highlighting challenges that require policy and capacity building attention lie.
In response to a request from the AfCFTA Secretariat, UNDP is working with UN Women, Government and partners, to facilitate national level round table consultations to interrogate the critical issues that women exporters on the ground feel should be included in this Protocol. Building on this, UN Women will conduct stakeholder consultations as well as an online survey to maximize outreach to women, to better understand their needs and priorities, and strengthen prospects of success for the AfCFTA.
Women exporters and organisations whose work touches on Women in Trade are encouraged to participate in the conversation and add their voice to Zimbabwe’s input to the Protocol through any one of the methods below:
· Participate in the virtual National Consultation Workshop scheduled for the 25th of June, 2021. Please register in advance at: https://undp.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUpcOyprz4vHNITc_IbFeGz2_oa9k7c8jpk
· Contribute to the Twitter and Facebook conversation @UNDPZimbabwe
· Complete the questionnaire online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WiTZim
· Alternatively, you can request the submission form in Word at Shamiso.firstname.lastname@example.org
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