36TH AU ASSEMBLY: Africa eyes to heighten trade

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan will tomorrow join other African Heads of State and Government for the two-day 36th ordinary Session of the AU Assembly to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with the main focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The theme for the AU summit which is slated to start tomorrow and end of Sunday is-“The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.”

Tanzania submitted the instruments of its ratification of the AfCFTA agreement to the African Union Commission (AUC) in January last year and it is among the first seven African countries which have been given priority to send products to the integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.

Ratifying the AfCFTA agreement showed the readiness of Tanzania to access the continental market. The AfCFTA would foster the free movement of goods, services and people across borders and help meet the continent’s enormous economic potential.

The Minister for Investment, Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji, announced recently that coffee will be the first Tanzanian product to trade under AfCFTA market in July, this year.

Addressing members of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), Dr Kijaji asked the Tanzanian business community to take full advantage of the continental market.

“We already have the first product that we will export first and that is coffee and we will not send it in raw form, we will send the finished product,” the minister noted during the meeting that was also attended by the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba.

She mentioned another product that is earmarked to be exported to the market as marble, adding that the government is negotiating with local producers to scale up production ready for export.

“There are other products that we are still discussing with the producers; we are ready to enter in this market with ten types of products from July 1st, this year. We continue to enlighten our producers on what is needed and things to consider in the market.

“We will continue to exchange information with the private sector and as President Samia said we should not be observers in this market of 1.3 billion people, rather fully take advantage to exploit the market by selling our products to the full potential,” she said.

The theme for the 36th ordinary Session of the AU Assembly is aimed at enhancing close collaboration with all relevant organs and specialised agencies of the AU, regional mechanisms and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), in line with their respective mandates to fast-track implementation of AfCFTA for the benefit of Africa’s population.

The Theme of the year for 2023 seeks to generate greater political commitment in trade as a developmental Agenda for Africa.

It will serve to mobilise solutions and solidarity to turn that vision into reality, with a view to create interlinkage with member states, AU bodies, private sector actors, development partners and other stakeholders, who have important roles to play to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA.

AfCFTA presents a unique opportunity for the continent to attain economic emancipation, which will lead to job creation, poverty alleviation, improved welfare and sustainable development.

Beyond the policy transformation and reforms, the AfCFTA seeks to ensure inclusivity of women and youth, development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and overall industrialisation of the continent.

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