THE government mulls local government authorities to manage some Special Economic Zones (SEZ) alongside the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), so as to become centres of economic development, Industry and Trade Minister, Prof Kitila Mkumbo has said.
Prof Mkumbo said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that the objective of drawing local government authorities in was to link investments in the special economic zones to the local economy, in efforts to enable them stimulate the domestic economy.
“We think some of these areas will be managed by local government authorities to make them centres of economic development," he said at meeting that drew together EPZA and SEZ investors, EPZA and government officials to brainstorm how to link investments in the designated areas to the domestic economy.
The government set up Export Processing Zones (EPZs) in 2002 and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in 2006, to promote and facilite export-led industrial development in Tanzania.
Managed by the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), the EPZ scheme promotes investment in export-oriented manufacturing activities, while the SEZ programme is broader and more inclusive and promotes sector-specific investment with an emphasis on agriculture, trade, tourism, mining and forestry.
“We are thinking of conducting a comprehensive review of EPZA that will inform us on how to go about the next phase. The main idea is to improve management of export economic and special economic zones,” the minister said.
He said apart from linking the investments in the designated areas to the domestic economy, the measure would also help to promote formalisation of the informal sector.
The minister said plans were underway to create more industrial parks areas and the government had already identified the areas which will be announced next month.
“I call upon domestic and foreign investors to seize these opportunities to be announced in July,” he said.
The Minister further said Tanzania would soon ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which seeks to establish a single market for made in Africa goods and services and called upon the business community to prepare for more competition.
“Tanzania will join various regional economic groupings and will soon ratify AfCFTA. That means we are needed to be much more competitive. We must be prepared to be more competitive.
“Africa will become a single market. The private sector must prepare. We must be prepared,” he said.
African countries began officially trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area on January 1st this year, after months of delays caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Under the deal, members must phase out 90 per cent of tariff lines over the next five to 10 years.
The AfCFTA aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that will be the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.
Speaking earlier, EPZA Acting Director General, John Mnali said the authority had licenced 176 companies that have invested 2.5 billion US dollars and provide 58,198 direct employments up to March this year.