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Club of Mozambique | 17 May 2021
Deputy minister on Mozambique and the African Continental Free Trade Area
The deputy minister of Industry and Commerce, Ludovina Bernardo, says that tariff liberalisation and other commitments that Mozambique will make within the scope of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must align with national development priorities and the policies and strategies in force in the country.
Created in March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, during the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, with the aim of introducing a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of the continent, the ACFTA has been in effect since January 1, 2021.
Despite being one of the first countries to sign the accession agreement, Mozambique has not yet ratified it, and impact assessment studies are still underway, alongside the elaboration of a national implementation strategy designed to allow the country to take better advantage in the medium and long term.
“Ratification is not just a political decision. The national strategy for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area that the government will adopt must have a realistic and phased action plan,” said Bernardo. “Mozambique intends to continue to build its geography of multilateral economic development, increasingly integrating its economy in Africa and in the world, taking advantage of the lessons of other integration processes,” the deputy minister said.
Mozambique, the deputy minister said, intends to place itself as a competitive reference for logistics services and port infrastructures, development corridors, tourism, industrialisation, technological specialisation and modernisation, applied research, strategic distribution of power, inclusion and participation of micro, small and medium-sized companies (MSMEs), developing the entrepreneurial capacity of young people and women, and facilitating trade as a structuring part of improving the business environment, among other areas.
Despite the challenges, the African Continental Free Trade Area is important and brings countless opportunities for Mozambique, particularly with regard to the existing competitiveness in the priority sectors, the increase in revenues and differentiated competitiveness of the national private sector, Bernardo noted.
The deputy minister of Industry and Commerce was speaking at the third Mozambique-European Union Economic Roundtable, which took place in Maputo on Wednesday (12-05) under the motto “The African Continental Free Trade Area: a Factor of Change for the Continent and for Mozambique’.
The roundtable was part of the activities of Europe Week, and in particular the celebration of May 9, Europe Day.
On the occasion, the European Union ambassador to Mozambique, António Sánchez-Benedito Gaspar, declared that the process of creating a single market on the African continent was irreversible, which is why it was necessary for Mozambique to be clear about what to do and how to do it, in order to benefit from “a project as ambitious as creating an integrated barrier-free trade zone in Africa”.
“The 21st century is going to be Africa’s,” the EU ambassador said. “Before Covid-19, economic growth was very strong, with six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world being African – including, in recent years, Mozambique. I am sure that this trend will continue. Mozambique is very well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities, because it has many human and material resources, as well as strategic geographic locations.”