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-The Herald

BULAWAYO will next week host a high-level trade conference on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to help conscientise businesses about opportunities presented by the historic pact.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) would host the event, which will see key speakers including Cabinet ministers and regional delegates unpack the significance of the AfCFTA, which was operationalised in January this year.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Fredrick Shava, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza and Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, are expected to attend the event alongside distinguished business leaders.

Representatives of key Government officials, AfreximBank and ZimTrade are also expected to attend while AfCFTA secretary general, Mr Wamkele Mene, and other key stakeholders are expected to attend the conference virtually.

ZNCC Matabeleland regional chairman, Mr Lewis Herbst, said the forthcoming conference comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected businesses in many ways. He said the conference should contribute suggestions towards post Covid-19 economic recovery.

“One of the solutions that has come up is the AfCFTA that has been signed. It (AfCFTA) will create a 52 to 53 percent chance of potential business increase,”

he told journalists at a press briefing Monday.

“Where we are right now? l think not many people know this opportunity has presented itself. So, as a chamber we want to have a trade conference, which will discuss more details of the AfCFTA on the 7th of May, where they will be honourable guests.”

During the conference, Minister Shava is expected to speak about the ongoing Government efforts to steer trade promotion in Zimbabwe towards attaining an upper middle-income economy status by 2030.

Ministers Nzenza and Prof Ncube are also expected to make presentations on the industry’s preparedness towards implementation of AfCFTA, and unpacking of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) respectively.

ZimTrade chief executive officer Mr Allan Majuru is also expected to present a paper on understanding of the principles of origin and regional trade agreements while ZNCC chief executive officer Mr Christopher Mugaga will give an insight on values and opportunities for the chamber’s members.

Commenting, ZNCC national deputy president Mr Golden Muoni said as a chamber they were trying to raise awareness around the opportunities that locals and Zimbabweans in the Diaspora can tap into and come up with competitive viable projects that promote local business as the market opens up under the AfCFTA.

“We are trying to communicate with the businesspeople locally and internationally especially the Diasporans. We want the Diasporans to be part and parcel of infrastructure of this economy because if they are not part of it, all the countries that have prospered were not built by foreigners, they are celebrated by their own people,”

he said.

The AfCFTA deal creates a regional market of about 1,2 billion people with an estimated US$3,4 trillion a year contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Its launch has set the tone towards creating a regional economic community of Africa through which business can leverage on.

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