BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
SEVERAL Zimbabwean micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) have taken advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to expand their African footprint, according to Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
The 54 – member bloc, with a combined US$3,4 trillion, opened in January last year with a plan to remove duty on 90% of goods originating from the continent.
It aims to deepen African trade and economic integration.
In an interview with Standardbusiness, Nyoni said she was confident that SMEs with competitive products would shine under AfCFTA.
She said Zimbabwe was currently capacitating MSMEs to help them produce competitive, high quality products for the domestic and export markets.
“The Africa Continental Free Trade area was established in 2018, to create a single market for Africa creating numerous industrial and trading opportunities especially for the MSME sector. Zimbabwe is part of the biggest free trade agreement creating opportunities for local MSMEs to participate in existing regional value chains.
“A number of MSMEs are taking advantage of the regional trade bloc. She said Zimbabwe has signed agreements and memoranda of understanding with Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania, and South Africa among others. It is also a signatory to the Comesa Treaty, Sadc Trade Protocol. “These agreements provide a competitive advantage to Zimbabwe products as goods have duty free access as long as they originate from Zimbabwe,” she said.
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Last year, AfCFTA secretary general, Wamkele Mene visited the country and highlighted that the Southern Africa nation has huge potential and can be competitive in a number of areas.
“There are potential export benefits for Zimbabwe as the country can be competitive in a number of areas. Currently it is one of the largest exporters of tobacco and as of yesterday I was informed that the country is now entering the pharmaceutical sector as well as producing oxygen,” she added.