The Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) has welcomed the operationalization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the just ended Africa Union 12th Extraordinary Summit.
ZACCI President Chabuka Kawesha has observed that the actualization of the AfCFTA has potential to help Zambia grow its investment portfolio and enhance its access to the larger trade market.
In an interview with ZANIS in Lusaka today, Mr. Kawesha said Zambia’s involvement in pitching in a larger investment market is a positive move, which must grow and be led by the private sector.
He explained that currently the Africa Union estimates that implementing the continental free trade area will lead to 60% boost in intra-Africa trade by 2022.
He noted that both the Zambian Private Sector and government know that this background can increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in-flows and other wealth generation opportunities for the country.
Mr. Kawesha added that ZACCI takes cognizance of the fact that free trade agreements are designed to increase trade between two or more countries, which leads to wealth creation, and economic growth in a country.
He however, stated that Zambia’s real benefits would be realized once the high cost elements of doing business in the country are reduced and the country is open up more trade routes.
He said many high cost elements are triggered in country through local authorities and agencies. Policy positions have been shared, adding that it is time we actualize the visions of industrialization.
Mr. Kawesha said Zambia is currently on a weak footing considering the agriculture and manufacturing base which is low, unprotected and clogged with high operational costs thus leaving the country an import-oriented nation.
He pointed out that trade agreements are designed to cut trade tariffs between member countries, which must be protected and supported by the local private sector units in a free global market environment so that the country does not remain a trading and dumping ground for inferior goods and services.
He noted that the ratification of the AfCFTA will bring about increased opportunities and promote competition which Zambia’s investors and wealth creators need to keep at pace with other countries and breed growth and market opportunities.
He further said that the Chamber is alive to notable frameworks like the National Industrial Policy, Local Content Strategy and Export Strategy noting that these are good instruments that if implemented will increase Zambia’s economic and industrial outlook within the continental free trade area.
Mr. Kawesha has since implored government to continue promoting the private sector and deliberate cost reduction measures and spur wealth creation across a wider section of society.