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ZLECAf: The six essentials for the implementation of a transcontinental space

It is not a mirror of the larks, nor is it an opportunity to which we must turn our backs. Membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area, known as ZLECAf, dictates a set of approaches and actions whose benefits should largely reflect on the Tunisian economy and its trade with Africa. In this regard, six priorities must prevail to better prepare Tunisia for the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.

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It is above all a question, according to the consultant of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Slim Driss, of submitting and negotiating the tariff offers, finalizing the rounds of negotiations to look after the improvement of the environment. legal and institutional framework, the strengthening of economic diplomacy, the support of national and foreign operators and the implementation of a monitoring and evaluation system.

“Once the institutional aspects have been finalized, the country must improve the logistics infrastructure by simplifying and digitizing export and import formalities and by improving the state of land roads and maritime and air connections. and the efficiency of supply chains,” he told TAP during a workshop to validate the National Strategy for the implementation of the ZLECAf, in Tunis.

According to the director of cooperation with Africa at the Ministry of Commerce, Chaouki Jebali, this strategy developed by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development, with the support of the ECA, will be validated after a period of 15 days. , pending the recommendations of public bodies and national and international experts in several fields (customs, transport, international transit, foreign trade) and those of the private sector and civil society.

Carried out after a process of consultation and collection of qualitative and quantitative data (WTO, UNCTAD, BCT, INS, etc.) related to the challenges and opportunities for Tunisia, the strategy presented on Friday showed that the entry into force of the agreement of the continental free trade area could offer Tunisia good opportunities and help it in its post-covid 19 economic recovery.

Tunisian exports could grow, in this case, by 70.5% to African countries, it was indicated during the workshop. Because, the untapped potential of exports with the main African countries is estimated, in 2019, at 1016.3 million dollars.

The country is currently facing several difficulties with low economic growth rates (3.1% in 2021), a high and persistent unemployment rate (18.4% in 2021 against 16.69% in 2020), a fairly high (85.6% in 2021) and a deficit trade balance.

Transformative effect!

Tunisia had ratified, on July 22, 2020, the ZLECAF convention, which aims to create the largest free trade area in the world with the potential to bring together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of more than 2.5 trillion dollars and usher in a new era of development for the continent.

According to the ECA, the agreement establishing the ZLECAF signed in Kigali (Rwanda) on March 21, 2018, is a key step in the African integration program. The ZLECAf should serve as a locomotive for economic growth, industrialization and sustainable development in the black continent, in line with the 2030 Agenda adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

In this regard, the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to have a transformative effect. According to estimates from research conducted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), it could increase the value of intra-African trade by 15-25%.

The share of this trade would increase by 40 to 50% compared to the beginning of the implementation period of the Agreement.

More importantly, the Free Trade Area would have a great impact on trade in industrial products, the value of which would increase by 25 to 30%. There would also be an increase for agriculture and food products (from 20 to 30%), as well as for energy and extractive industries (from 5 to 11%).

The remarkable progress made since the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations in 2015 is very encouraging. However, expectations in this regard remain high and the extent to which the transformative effect will materialize will largely depend on the implementation of the Agreement. The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area will be assessed not only on the basis of its effects on trade, but also on its influence on Africa’s overall development trajectory. The commercial advantages generated by this new political environment will have to benefit the parts of the African population that did not necessarily benefit from it before. In other words, the benefits will have to be inclusive and better distributed

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