By BUSINESS REPORTER
THE decision of the Zambian government to join in the creation of the world’s biggest free trade will yield great benefits for the continent, says Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), centre Coordinator Chenai Mukumba.
On Sunday, President Edgar Lungu signed the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) which was witnessed by African Union commissioner for trade and industry Albert Muchanga.
Ms Mukumba said the AfCFTA envisaged liberalisation of both trade in goods and services in the first phase of negotiations and would extend to investment, competition policy and intellectual property in the second phase.
“Consumer Unity and Trust Society applauds the decision of the Zambian Government to join in the creation of the world’s biggest free trade area,” Ms Mukumba said.
Both Zambia and Botswana signed the AfCFTA agreement on Sunday, bringing the total number of signatories to 52.
She said it was vital to recognise the importance of the agreement as one that would liberalise trade of both goods and services for all African countries.
Ms Mukumba said CUTS was delighted to note that Zambia would now work towards necessary processes required to ratify the agreement.
The decision to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area was taken during the 18th Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2012.
This was when the Heads of State and government decided to establish a Pan- Africa Continental Free Trade Area by the indicative date of 2017.
The decision was taken as part of Africa’s efforts towards fast-tracking the continent-wide free trade component of the African Economic Community (AEC) established by the Abuja Treaty of 1991.
In June, 2015, the assembly of Heads of State launched the negotiations and in January last year, a decision was taken to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area in March, 2018.