Lusaka, December 31, 2020, ZANIS— Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma has announced that the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will be effected on January 1st, 2021.
Mr Yaluma disclosed that the official launch of the AfCFTA will take place at a virtue event which will be graced by the African Union (AU) Chairperson, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the AU Secretariat, Ghana President Nana Akuffo Addo.
Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka, Mr Yaluma indicated that the development entails that AU Member States will now trade with each other across regional blocks under a single preferential trading regime.
The Minister was happy that Member States remained resolute to ensuring that the African free trade zone was a success even under the restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that the establishment of the AfCFTA is part of the AU’s wide agenda to boost intra Africa trade and contribute to the attainment of the envisioned Africa in line with the vision 2063.
“I take this opportunity to signal the launch of the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement scheduled to commence on January 1st, 2021. The launch of the start of trading under AfCFTA is a culmination of years of intense negotiations by AU Member States, work which is still going on,” Mr Yaluma explained.
The Minister however disclosed that among the 55 Member States, Zambia is one of the 21 countries that have not yet deposited their instruments of ratification.
Mr Yaluma stated that the country has been given Cabinet approval to ratify the agreement but that it is currently under consideration by parliament for approval.
He revealed that Zambia became a signatory to the framework agreement establishing the AfCFTA since February 10, 2019.
Mr Yaluma told the media that even when the country is signatory to a number of configurations, there is need for more efforts at sub regional level in order for the country to get a fair share of trade openness especially within SADC and COMESA.
He was optimistic that the creation of AfCFTA may result in trade creation but that it was necessary to put in place conditions to avoid Zambia being a dumping ground.
He noted that his Ministry has continued to engage with the private sector who are the main drivers of the economy, adding that this is the only way the country can benefit from the free trading area.
“The Ministry looks forward to continued collaboration with various arms of government, the private sector and civil society on matters relating to AfCFTA so that decisions taken are owned by all segments of the Zambian society,” the Minister mentioned.
The AfCFTA was officially launched on March 21, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda. As of December 2020, 54 AU Member States had signed the AfCFTA agreement.