COMESA: How prepared is our industry?

comesaHARARE - It was a historical moment seeing African leaders ratifying the trade protocols of the COMESA Customs Union, paving the way for a total achievement of the dream of an economically integrated Africa.

In 2000, COMESA launched a free trade area (FTA), which promoted deeper integration among COMESA member states, then comprising 11 countries, mostly east and southern African countries, including Zimbabwe.

The FTA meant that trade liberalisation, non-tariff and technical barriers to trade, had been formally completed within COMESA member States. The 11 countries started trading on a tariff and quota-free basis among themselves and could use preferential trade arrangements with non-FTA states.

Despite the growth of the COMESA economic bloc, Zimbabwe, which was an active member and the brains behind the project, has since lost a greater part of its COMESA market as a result of the economic challenges the country faced.

But is Zimbabwe better placed and ready to a play a leading role again?

If the country is to regain its share of the COMESA market, the productive sector must start to produce and the country must capitalise on investment opportunities presented by the larger market to realise increased factor mobility and economies of scale.

Another key area that local industry needs to improve is the capacity to pursue export promotion strategies, complemented by a comprehensive value addition chain, supervised and controlled by set industrial standards.

But above all, since Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy, agricultural production is needed for sustained economic growth.

Willard Razawo is the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce PR officer and Harare business development manager.

Post published in: Opinions

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