Africa challenged to grab AfCFTA opportunities

DURBAN, South Africa: AFRICAN countries have been urged to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) opportunities to stimulate business as it envisions reaching the continent’s agenda in 2063.

Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji made the remarks on Tuesday this week at the opening of the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers (COM) meeting in Durban, South Africa.

“As member states of this agreement we should make good use of the existing opportunities starting from the protocol for trade in goods, trade of services, investment, creative intellectual property rights, digital market, youth and women business and strong systems for resolving business disputes,” said Dr Kijaji who was the chair of the meeting.

Tanzania is the current chair of the AfCFTA. It will chair all meetings of the AfCFTA this year after being handed over the chairmanship during the 12th Council of Ministers meeting held in Dar es Salaam in December last year.

Dr Kijaji added that countries should cooperate to complete the investment protocol, digital business protocol, criteria of origin of the products as well as the important issues related to conflict resolution systems in doing business in the continent to address challenges like tax trade barriers and non-taxable.

Elaborating further, she said that the cooperation of the member states through AfCFTA will contribute significantly to resolving various challenges including road infrastructure, rail and air transport, insufficient energy as well as low production and communication.

“The partnership that we established in business matters has a great contribution in solving those challenges,” insisted Dr Kijaji.

She also noted that through the AfCFTA, the opening of trade and production within the African continent will increase and thus reduce the challenges of employment and poverty in the continent.

“We need to realise that our continent has a big challenge of youth unemployment. Through the opening of business we expect that investment and production within the continent will increase and reduce employment problem,” she said.

Dr Kijaji said that the AfCFTA represented a symbol of hope and opportunity with a vision to promote sustainable development through strong intra-African trade.

She said that as Tanzania is one of the founding countries of the African Union, thus their priority will be to protect the interests of the African continent, noting: “Tanzania alone cannot achieve the intended goal but if we unite together we will be able to achieve our goals.

The 13th COM meeting was preceded by several meetings at the level of experts, including the 16th meeting of the Senior Trade Officials (STO) and the 10th meeting of the Committee for the Resolution of Business Disputes held from January 23 to 29, 2024.

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