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Zambian Trade Minister Commends Progress in AfCFTA Discussions

The Thirteenth Meeting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade is underway in Durban, Republic of South Africa, with Hon. Chipoka Mulenga, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, leading the Zambian delegation. 

In a statement on the sidelines of the meeting, Minister Mulenga commended the progress made under the AfCFTA, emphasizing its significance in unlocking Africa’s trade potential.

The meeting follows the 16th Meeting of the Committee of Senior Trade Officials held from 26th to 29th January, 2024, setting the stage for high-level discussions on trade policies and strategies. 

Minister Mulenga highlighted the continent’s commitment to gradually eliminating tariffs on 90 percent of goods and reducing barriers to trade in services, with the aim of increasing Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035.

Expressing optimism about the successful implementation of the AfCFTA, Minister Mulenga underscored the potential benefits, including the creation of more jobs, improved welfare, and a better quality of life for citizens, contributing to sustainable development. 

He revealed Zambia’s commitment to participating in the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) and the fully flagged Free Trade Area (FTA).

Minister Mulenga stated that Zambia is in the final stages of the domestication process of the AfCFTA Agreement, preparing to express interest in joining State Parties piloting the GTI.

The relevant instruments for domestication have undergone national consultations and are awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Justice.

During discussions, Minister Mulenga urged Council Members to adopt progressive provisions on proposed rules of origin, specifically supporting a more flexible rule on textiles under Chapter 61. 

This flexibility would allow for sourcing limited or unavailable inputs from non-African countries, with the condition that this exception be time-bound and efforts should be directed towards building a self-sustaining industry.  

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