Stanbic Bank to boost cross-border trade

STANBIC Bank Zimbabwe

STANBIC Bank Zimbabwe has urged local businesses to take advantage of the numerous benefits derived from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Stanbic Bank head Trade and Africa China Banking, Tapuwa Nyika said AfCFTA presents numerous opportunities for Zimbabwean businesses to expand their market reach, improve competitiveness and increase access to new markets.

“The removal of trade barriers opens the door for Zimbabwean businesses to access a market of over 1,2 billion consumers and expand their operations across the continent. The growth prospects for Zimbabwean businesses posed by this opportunity are immeasurable as they not only include employment creation but generation of the much needed foreign currency,” Nyika said.

The banker said opening up of a single market brings competition, noting that with increased competition, Zimbabwean businesses would be forced to improve their products and services, making them more competitive and appealing to a wider range of consumers.

He said Zimbabwean businesses could diversify their markets and reduce their dependence on a single market, reducing the risks associated with economic shocks.

“The AfCFTA is a significant step towards the integration of African economies, and Zimbabwean businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this initiative. By embracing the opportunities presented by the agreement, Zimbabwean businesses can increase their market reach, improve competitiveness, and spur economic growth and development,” Nyika said.

Nyika’s sentiments are in tandem with the bank’s parent company, Standard Bank Group, which says AfCFTA presents a key opportunity for Africa to alleviate poverty, drive economic activity and achieve prosperity for her people.

Standard Bank head of trade for business and commercial banking, Philip Myburgh said Africa’s largest bank by assets, was committed to driving her growth and unlocking opportunities across the 20 markets served.

“Standard Bank is building the finance and trade solutions to help address the tariff and non-tariff barriers required to realise the continent’s ambitions to create an effective single market,” Myburgh said.

“In this environment, leveraging on the ability of Africa’s financial institutions to deploy capital from development finance institutions and sovereigns into effective trade finance, especially for entities that have not yet built up their credit standing, could dramatically expand intra-African trade,” he said.

Other areas where banks and the private sector could work with the AfCFTA to begin implementation in 2023, include identifying and co-operating on leveraging growth on high-potential sectors.

“In Africa, for example, agriculture is the bedrock, biggest earner and greatest employer in many markets. Starting with small steps to improve the movement of food and agricultural goods, inputs, services and people could have a disproportionately large positive impact on social stability, growth, investment and national revenue across the continent,” Myburgh said.

Energy and power infrastructure is another area where even limited cross-border co-operation and co-ordinated national investment could have a high impact on regional and continental growth.

Free trade or special economic zones have also, to date, proved their worth as drivers of investment, production and export earnings, among African economies.

“The secret to Africa’s success will be the power of partnerships, awareness of what is needed and access to trusted information, as no one can do it alone. The AfCFTA Business Forum is the perfect opportunity to get these partnerships off the ground and work to breathe life into the move to a single market,” he said.

“It is important that we use this opportunity to accelerate moves to a practical cross-border framework on which to build the institutions, systems and practices capable of uniting Africa’s business potential into a continental force for growth.”

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