The Government is fully aware of the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector and understands the potential risks that come with trade liberalization, Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, James Manzou has said today at a National Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Following the risks, the Secretary, in Harare, revealed that the Government entered a reservation on the modalities for tariff liberalisation and is making necessary negotiations with other member states for a longer tariff phase down period of 15 years rather than 5 years for developing countries as per the adopted modalities.
“The longer tariff phasedown period if granted, will provide policy space to manage the impact of tariff phasedown in such a way as to nurture local industries, as they are retooling, and growing their capacity in preparation for continental competition,” Manzou said.
“The country registered the reservation on the tariff modalities together with other six countries. The other countries are Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Malawi, Madagascar and Zambia. The Group is known as the Group of seven (G7).”
Besides the AfCFTA agreement, the secretary revealed that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is in the process of finalizing the National Trade Policy and Export Strategy and the accompanying Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation frameworks for Zimbabwe.
“Ministerial and Cabinet approval of the draft policy and strategy documents is being sought to facilitate the launch and implementation,” Manzou explained.
“The main thrust of the Policy and Strategy is to increase productivity, enhance value addition, diversify exports and improve the human, institutional and financial capacity for the development and growth of value-added exports from the manufacturing and services sectors.”
The Export Strategy is targeting sectors which include horticulture; textiles; and clothing, leather arts and craft; food; wood; chemicals; pharmaceuticals; tourism; education services; mediacl services; financial services; construction and engineering and business services.
The Nataional Forum on the AfCFTA is going under the theme expanding industrial and trade growth through AfCFTA.
“In order to address the funding challenges facing our local companies, Government through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is seeking lines of credit to support the manufacturing sector so that they can participate in the export markets and generate the much needed foreign currency,” Manzou said.
AfCFTA agreement was signed by Fifty five African countries which want to create one market for the continent.