Zimbabwe says it is not ready to fully implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) until it has fully industrialized.
The country, according to industry and commerce minister, would only be able to fully implement the trade pact in about 15 years when it has fully industrialized so that it can effectively benefit from the market provided by the trade agreement, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.
The AfCFTA came into effect on May 30 after being ratified by 22 member states including Zimbabwe.
The free trade area, expected to boost intra-Africa trade, will create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth about 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.
The minister told the newspaper that the government was fully aware of the concerns by the local manufacturing sector that it would fail to compete in the free trade area as it is currently facing a myriad of economic challenges.
He said the government had made the necessary negotiations with other member states to make sure that they do not reduce the country to a dumping ground.
"I understand the potential risk to it and the biggest one being we are likely to be on the receiving end from big companies who have more competitive products who will use us as a dumping site but obviously we did not ascend to it blind folded."
“As a country we have negotiated that we will fully implement the treaty in 15 years so we have more time to industrialize.
“We have more time to make sure that our companies are able to produce competitive products but at the same time we will be able to export to the whole continent," minister Moyo said.