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AfCFTA Chief Drums for Economic Integration

AFRICAN nations must work together to achieve economic integration as outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Secretary-General Wamkele Mene said on Sunday.

The AfCFTA chief underlined this at the official opening of the 46th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) in the country’s commercial.

Mr Mene said the founding fathers of African nations did their part by defeating colonialism but economic integration is up to the current generation.

“If we don’t achieve the objective of the economic integration, we shall forever remain on the peripheral of the global economy because no single African country can be able to achieve global competitiveness on its own,” he said.

“Africa must be a single economic market for us to be able to feed ourselves and become globally competitive,” the AfCFTA Secretary General added.

Mr Mene said AfCFTA is a tool for Africa’s economic integration and industrial growth as they consolidate a market of 1.3 billion people that is anticipated to reach a combined market value of close to 8 trillion US dollars by 2025.

The African market and economy can be the eighth largest economy in the world but that will not be achieved if nations are fragmented, he argued.

AfCFTA is a trade agreement and tool for integration including trading goods, services, digital trade, protocol on women and youths in trade, intellectual property rights and competition policy.

He said Heads of State are directed that 97 per cent of goods traded in Africa must be traded at zero duty that is to say, no tariff and non-tariff barrier that is unjustified by 2035.

Mr Mene said AfCFTA has been ratified by 43 countries, which means all of these countries have accepted the legal obligation to reduce and eliminate trade and investment barriers in the continent.

“AfCFTA is crucial because 55 countries in Africa contribution to global trade is 2.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent contribution to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), you contrast that with Singapore contribution which is 6 per cent and see that we have great work to do,” he noted.

He said over the last 65 to 70 years, Africa has been exporting and overly reliant on the export of primary commodities largely to countries of the North.

Earlier, welcoming the guest of honour, Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji said Tanzania is ready to grab AfCFTA opportunities.

She also said Tanzania would continue to work with African countries to find markets for its products.

She said the country is strategising to benefit from the 1billion US dollars from AfCFTA to strengthen trade so that they can access markets globally.

Recently at their 134th meeting, the Board of Directors of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) renewed their approval of a 1billion US dollars facility to operationalise the AfCFTA Adjustment Funds. It also approved a Grant Funding in an amount of 10 million US dollars, to seed the Base Fund of the AfCFTA Adjustment Funds.

Afreximbank and the AfCFTA Secretariat were mandated by the AfCFTA Council of Trade Ministers and the African Union Heads of State and Government to establish and operationalise the AfCFTA Adjustment Funds, which consists of the Base Fund, the General Fund, and the Credit Fund.

The Base Fund will be used to mobilise grants to address tariff revenue losses and to support AfCFTA state parties to implement the various protocols under the AfCFTA.

Afreximbank Board also approved a grant funding in an amount of 10 million US dollars as seed funding to kick-start the establishment of the Base Fund. 

The General Fund will be used to mobilise concessional funding, while the Credit Fund will be used to mobilise commercial funding that will be used to support the public and private sector including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), youth and women to adjust to the new trading environment arising from the AfCFTA.

Dr Kijaji said the loan available would increase employment for youths and women and develop specific economic and investment zones.

Minister Kijaji assured Mr Mene that Tanzania will continue to produce quality products to meet the demand and expectation of the global market.

Source: Daily News Tanzania

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