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Government still non-committal on Free Trade Area pact

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

NEGOTIATIONS ARE NOT THROUGH—
Hartzenberg

The government is still consulting on whether to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and taking necessary steps in the process.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Ken Ndala, said yesterday that the government was still engaging the private sector on the best way forward. ,

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In January 2012, the assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area to boost intra-Africa trade focusing on trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information and market integration.

In March 2018, during an extraordinary summit in Rwanda, Malawi and 43 other African countries signed an agreement for the establishment of the AfCFTA which was expected to enter into force after ratification instruments from half (22) of the nations that agreed to it were deposited to the AU.

Ndala said ratifying the pact required thorough assessment.

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“There were fears that if we enter, will our local products compete on the international market?

“We will still have an opportunity to ratify at any time even after May 30,” Ndala said.

Trade Expert at South Africa-based Trade Law Center, Trudi Hartzenberg, said although the agreement would enter into force on May 30 for the 22 member states, negotiations are not complete yet.

The 22 countries that have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the AU are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Guinea, eSwatini, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Saharawi Republic.

Zimbabwe has received parliamentary approval for ratification but is yet to deposit its ratification instruments with the AU

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