BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
ZAMBIA can benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) by building domestic production capacity strong enough to withstand competition from other products in the region.
This calls for Government to conduct research on and prioritise sectors where Zambia has comparative advantage and build domestic production capacity.
This is according to the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) Executive Director, Bernadette Deka-Zulu.
The CFTA was set to begin on July 1st, 2020, but as a result of Covid-19, the date had been postponed.
A new date for commencement of trade had yet to be declared.
Ms Zulu said CFTA may result in increased food security through reduction to barriers on trade in agricultural products.
“The CFTA may result in an increased rate of diversification and transformation of Africa’s economy and the continent’s ability to supply its import needed from its own resources,” she said in the PMRC inforgraphic on CFTA.
Ms Zulu however said Zambia needed to put in place a number of measures to ensure that the country benefited from the CFTA.
She stressed that support must be provided for small scale producers to avoid crowding out by a market run by the private sector.
“Small scale producers may adapt to the post-CFTA market though enhanced technical, managerial and financial skills to meet industry standards,” Ms Zulu said.
Ms Zulu said special focus should be given to industrial policy, trade policy and other policies related to the cost and ease of doing business.
She urged the ministry of commerce, trade and industry to build the capacity of Zambian firms to compete in the continental market by implementing strategic policies to encourage investment in the manufacturing sector.
Ms Deka also stressed the need to increase sensitization about the CFTA and the impact of Zambia joining because this would equip businesses and manufactures in strategically positioning themselves to benefit from the agreement.
“The free movement of business and natural persons would bring about spillover effects from countries that may develop new technologies and skills in response to the continental market demands,” she said.
The CFTA agreement entered into force on the 3oth of May 2019.