ZIMBABWEAN exporters are banking on the Comesa’s digital free trade area to reduce the time their goods spend at border queues, as well as promote efficiency in the clearance, ZimTrade has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Last November, Comesa launched its first African digital free trade area — an online platform that seeks to increase trade flow between member states by reducing or eliminating barriers to trade.
The platform, which is the first of its kind in Africa, is modelled on the Malaysian digital free trade area and comprised three segments — e-trade, e-logistics and e-legislation.
Comesa started conducting awareness workshops in the 15 participating member states including Zimbabwe, beginning January 24 in Seychelles.
Once roll-out is complete, Zimbabwean exporters would be able to do business online as the platform will allow them to link to transporting companies, clearing agents (e-logistics), relevant government departments handling trade, and with other importers and exporters within the Comesa bloc, according to ZimTrade.
Users will also be able to raise electronic certificates of origin (e-legislation), and to settle payments electronically (e-trade).
“By actively participating in the digital free trade area, companies will reduce the time their goods spend at border queues, promote efficiency in the clearance and transportation of their goods and access a wider target market for their products,” ZimTrade said.
ZimTrade said these positive developments were expected to help grow trade in a similar manner to the DFTA’s Malaysian counterpart, which is expected, by 2025, to double small-to-medium enterprises’ goods exports to $38 billion, create 60 000 Malaysian jobs as well as facilitate trade worth $65 billion.