PARLIAMENT has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a single market for goods, services and movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent.
By ratifying the AfCFTA, Zimbabwe joins about 15 other member states that have since ratified the agreement which is in accordance with the Pan-African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”, enshrined in Agenda 2063.
President Mnangagwa signed the agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) in March last year and 44 of its 55 member states also signed it.
Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi presented the motion on AfCFTA on behalf of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo in the National Assembly last week.
Minister Ziyambi moved the motion in terms of Section 327 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which provides that: “An international treaty which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President’s Authority: does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament; and does not form part of the law of Zimbabwe unless it has been incorporated into the law through an Act of Parliament.”
In presenting the motion on ratification, Minister Ziyambi said the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government which was held in June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa launched the African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations with an indicative deadline of 2017.
“Subsequently, on March 21, 2018, an African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and signed the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda,” he told legislators.
Minister Ziyambi said some of the objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations, contribute to the movement of capital and natural persons and facilitate investments building on the initiatives and developments in the State parties for the eventual establishment, at a later stage, a continental customs union and a continental single market.
He said the AfCFTA also strives to “promote and attain sustainable and inclusive social and economic development and structural transformation of the State parties; enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State parties within the continent and at the global market and promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security”.
Minister Ziyambi said the Consolidated AfCFTA Agreement comprises an agreement establishing the AfCFTA; protocol on trade in goods; protocol on Trade in services and protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes.
The agreement will come into force once 22 member states have ratified it.
To date 15 states have ratified while four others have received parliamentary approval for ratification.