By FRANK MUKUPA
GOVERNMENT is ready to finalise Zambia’s Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) strategy and implementation plan.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Ministry Chief Economist, Paul Mumba, noted that Zambia was a state party to the agreement indicating the highest political will especially that the framework agreement was signed by President Edgar Lungu.
He was speaking at the experts meeting to finalise Zambia’s AfCFTA Strategy and Implementation in Livingstone
Mr Mumba disclosed that the meeting would need to agree on the activities to be undertaken to implement the strategy once it had been finalised and launched.
He said that the on-going meeting was important to prepare Government as well as help Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to respond to the opportunities and challenges that come with the implementation of AFCTA.
“We need a plan to put a strategy in place so that we are able to respond systematically to the AfCFTA challenges and opportunities,” he emphasized.
Mr Mumba said focus should be on the strategies that would provide opportunities that come with AfCFTA rather than the negative fears of Zambian industries failing to compete favourably in the wider market as perceived.
“Zambia is already enjoying from the liberalised economy from the existing trading blocks in the various Tripartite Free Trade areas and AfcCTA will be an advantage to open a wider market,” he said.
And Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Affairs Officer, Oliver Maponga, noted that his institution was proud to support the Zambia’s AfCFTA strategy anchored on the 7th National Development Plan theme of not leaving anyone behind.
He emphasized that the strategy would allow Zambia to exploit new business opportunities and effectively participate in the African market hence the need to successfully complete the strategy.
Mr Maponga advised that the national strategy being developed was a national project that goes beyond the Ministry of Commerce and that various stakeholders should take keen interest.
He further emphasized the importance of ensuring that the strategy was implemented for the benefit of business, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.