Coffee leads exports in AfCFTA trials

What you need to know:

  • Tanzania, through a company known as Tanzania Trading Company Limitd, exported coffee to Algeria, while Tanzania Globe Investment exported sisal fibre to Nigeria

Dar es Salaam. Coffee is leading the list of agriculture exports as Tanzania participates in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) pilot programme.

Dubbed “Guided Trade Initiative,” the window has seen the export of 273.28 metric tonnes of coffee, 52.4 metric tonnes of sisal fibre, and 37.6 metric tonnes of tobacco between May and June this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

“We are still collecting data, but from May to July this year, Tanzania has sold goods to countries participating in the Guided Trade Initiative,” said the ministry’s principal trade analyst, Ms Sekela Mwaisela.

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight regional economic communities (RECs) to create a single market for the continent.

The market has a combined population of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion.

In October 2022, the Guided Trade Initiative was launched to pilot AfCFTA preferential trade among eight member states, including Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia.

The pilot involved 96 identified commodities, including ceramic tiles, tea, coffee, processed meat products, corn starch, sugar, pasta, glucose syrup, dried fruits, and sisal fibre, amongst others, in line with the AfCFTA focus on value chain development.

According to her, Tanzania, through a company known as Tanzania Trading Company Limited, exported coffee to Algeria, while Tanzania Globe Investment exported sisal fibre to Nigeria.

Exports to Morocco included three containers of spices and cloves. She noted further that they were still collecting data for the past few months.

On imports, she said that Tanzania faced some technicalities because it belonged to the East African Customs Union and, therefore, had to first finish negotiations and gazette the information, a process that takes time.

“We completed the process, and currently we are in communication with Egypt on issues of importation,” she said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation director of trade investment and productive sectors, Mr Bernard Haule, told The Citizen that some continental negotiations were still ongoing.

“As a continent, we have not officially started trading because we are still finalising negotiations for some important protocols and annexes necessary for the implementation of the agreement. The process has been slowed down due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought about travel restrictions,” he said.

Some of the protocols that were not concluded include those on investment, competition policy, intellectual property rights, digital trade, and protocols on women and youth in trade, he said.

He said that the annex to the rules of origin that governs products that will enjoy preferential treatment by eliminating custom duties and taxes of equivalent effect has not been completed, delaying the effective implementation of AfCFTA.