A meeting on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement has resulted in the recommendation that the integration process needs to incorporate voices of the poor and marginalized in society, as represented by non-state actors.
Those present at the meeting, which was organized by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), and held in Lusaka on the 13th and 14th of May 2021, said this was to ensure a deeper, meaningful, sustainable and inclusive development-oriented integration.
In attendance at the two-day meeting were the “Zambia Federation of Associations for Women in Business (ZFAWIB), Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC), Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS), Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA), Zambia Export Growers Association (ZEGA), Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), Southern African Cross Border Traders (SACBTA), and Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI).”
Speaking during the meeting, the Ministry highlighted the country’s preparedness towards implementation of the Agreement, including the finalisation of the National Implementation Strategy and submission of offers on tariff concessions for Trade in Goods.
The Submission “shows the liberalization for the 90% non-sensitive products, 7% sensitive and 3% excluded products and initial offers for Trade in Services in the 5 priority sectors comprising Business, Tourism, Financial, Transport and Communication.”
And Oxfam Country director Diles Judge underscored the importance of including the youth and women in the integration process as the AfCFTA will have differential effects on them post implementation.
“This is in light of the cross-cutting challenges faced by most stakeholders which include inadequate resources, lack of knowledge and skills to take full advantage of the regional integration specifically, and inconsistencies in the private-public dialogue more generally,” she said.
The AfCFTA came into effect on the 1st of January 2021 and Zambia ratified the document in February 2021 after postponing from the earlier announced ratification date of 5th December 2020.
The country submitted the instruments of ratification on the 6th of February 2021.