Free Trade Zones

How Tanzania can take full advantage of the Continental Free Trade Area


By Alex Nelson Malanga

Dar es Salaam. Business stakeholders said yesterday that Tanzania will truly benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), so some outstanding trade barriers need to be lifted.

The challenges that were pointed out at the CEO Roundtable (CEOrt) meeting that need to be addressed include low productivity, lack of regional and international competitive culture, inefficiency of some regulators and delays. customs clearance at ports.

The AfCFTA, whose trade officially began on January 1 of this year, aims to bring continent-wide free trade to 1.3 billion people in a $ 3.4 trillion economic bloc.

Industry and Trade Minister Kitila Mkumbo, who was the main guest, said that for Tanzania to take advantage of this opportunity, it was high time for investors in the country to improve their productivity so that they were in their place in the arena of the AfCFTA.

He said that currently most industries in the country are operating at less than 40 percent of their installed capacity.

To make matters worse, some operated seasonally.

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“If we are to improve, we have to address the issue of human resource skills and the attitude gap which is very huge,” said Prof Mkumbo.

He also urged the country’s investors to create a competitive regional and international culture that will help them step out of their comfort zone and fight for more success.

“My experience shows that most companies are very comfortable with protectionism and therefore do not want to hear about market opening,” said the minister.

“The signing and ratification of the AfCFTA reminds us that our businesses must be competitive.

“As a government, we are ready to facilitate by proposing friendly policies and legislation. Members of the private sector must also play their part. “

Coca-Cola chief executive Unguu Sulay called for revising regulations so that they do not become an obstacle to the competitiveness of local businesses.

He said that if Tanzania was to become competitive, it needed a friendly tax regime that did not hurt taxpayers.

Noting that the world works in terms of innovation, he also expressed the need to modernize and reorganize the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), not only in terms of equipment, but also human resources, knowledge and skills. .

For that to happen, he said, it was necessary to bring together people who have worked with the private sector in business and commerce and those who work with TBS to share their ideas.

“We call on government regulators to be business facilitators rather than otherwise,” said the boss of Coca-Cola.

“If we don’t meet these challenges, we destroy our competitive advantage over the rest of the world. “

MAC Group Chairman and CEO Yogesh Manek said, “We really need to be prepared so that businesses of all sizes can benefit from AfCFTA. “

He said it was time for Tanzania to avoid that only multinational companies can easily conquer the market when it comes to big opportunities.

“If we are to get there, we have to formulate exactly what we want, how to prepare, what has to be demonstrated by government and the private sector,” Manek recommended.

Again, referring to the issues of standardization, legislation and trademarks, he expressed the need to improve the ease of doing business.

AngloGold Ashanti’s Vice President of Sustainability Geita Gold Mine Limited, Simon Shayo, said that as a government and a region it was high time they determined their competitive edge in the areas they wanted to focus on.

“Regarding mineral added value, for example, what is the use of having the refinery in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda? Mr. Shayo asked.

Freight Terminal Tanzania Managing Director Zulobia Dhala said the high operating costs made Tanzania less competitive compared to other countries.

She said the high cost was caused considerably by bureaucracy in clearing goods at ports – which plunged them into demurrage charges.

“We are not competitive. It is difficult for us to win tenders for AfCFTA, ”Ms. Dhala said.