Ministry of Industry and Trade says the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened the case and need for regional economic integration and the Afica Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
The ministry’s spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said this on Monday in reaction to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) report on the macroeconomic developments in the trade bloc in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Comesa report says that regional economic integration and AfCFTA can help to mitigate the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic by reducing the continent’s high dependence on non-African partners.
Said Msokera: “Intra-African trade currently accounts for less than 16 percent of the continent’s total trade mainly because of poor support infrastructure, weak connectivity, low production capacity and overdependence on primary commodities.
“There is, therefore, high trade dependence on non-African partners by most of our economies. As a result, we have witnessed global supply chain disruptions emanating from the restrictive measures adopted by most of these trade partners.”
He said regional economic integration and AfCFTA can also create a conducive environment for the development of African regional value chains and enable member States to engage in import substitution.
Comesa says strengthening continental value chains should be a priority given the uncertain global business environment brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reads in part the report: “In the medium to long-term, the effective implementation of regional integration agenda of the regional economic communities and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area will be key to strengthening regional production networks and trade and reducing the continent’s vulnerability to external shocks.”
Comesa has put its growth this year at 0.6 percent from 5.2 percent last year.