President Mnangagwa headlines discussions on Continental Free Trade Area at WEF

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Davos (New Ziana) – President Emerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday kicked off his schedule at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland by joining several world leaders and dignitaries at a discussion on ways Public Private Partnerships can support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

A flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the AfCFTA is composed of 55 AU member states, creating a market of over 1.3 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3.4 trillion.

Trading under the AfCFTA, whose ultimate goal is to promote integration through gradual elimination of tariffs that hinder intra-Africa trade, commenced on January 1, 2021.

Its full implementation has been touted as a turning point in the free movement of people and goods between member states while also paving way for the development of the continent.

That the WEF is discussing strategies to ensure the successful implementation of AfCFTA is a sign of its importance to Africa’s development agenda.

“Africa became home recently to the largest free trade area in the world by area and number of countries. Increased cross border flows of goods have the potential to provide much needed economic stimulus with spill over benefits in services, intellectual property and competition policies,” read part of the programme.

The breakfast meeting was themed: “Friends of the African Continental Free Trade Area.”

President Mnangagwa co-chaired the meeting with Botswana President Mogkweetsi Masisi, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Hage Geingob of Namibia and the Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo.

Other dignitaries present included FIFA president Gianni Infantino, UNECA executive secretary Vera Songwe and Borge Brende the WEF president.

On its part, the Zimbabwe government, which ratified the agreement in May 2019, has engaged local industry to prepare it to compete for markets with other firms on the continent as AfCFTA gradually comes into force.

Speaking in March this year, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was also upgrading its transport infrastructure including airports, and road network to facilitate smooth flow of trade as part of efforts to rapidly domesticate key aspects of the AfCFTA.

“My government is moving with speed in domesticating key aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This includes reviewing investment related legislation, upgrading of our borders into one stop border posts, and the upgrading of our airport facilities, as well as road and rail network to facilitate smooth flow of goods,” he said then.

Zimbabwe is currently upgrading the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road, a major trade artery in the Southern African Development Community, while major upgrades are also being undertaken at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to increase its human and cargo handling capacity.

The Beitbridge border post is also undergoing a huge transformation as part of efforts by government to enhance trade.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has potential to boost intra-Africa trade by 53 percent by eliminating import duties and non-tariff barriers.
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