Deadline set for views on Tanzania’s AfCFTA products

Dr Ashatu Kijaji, Minister of Investment, Industry, and Trade. PHOTO | COURTESY


  • The government has set a deadline for the tabling of recommendations on products to be featured

Dar es Salaam. The government has set March as the deadline for the collection of opinions about the products to be traded under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) arrangement with effect from July this year.

Dr Ashatu Kijaji, Minister of Investment, Industry, and Trade, made the revelation in an exclusive interview with The Citizen last week.She reiterated her sentiment that, to start with, Tanzania will allow the trading of 10 products with effect from July this year.

“We have yet to identify the products.” “We have only recently begun discussions with members of the business community in order for them to tell us which products they want to trade under the AfCFTA arrangement,” Dr Kijaji explained over the phone.

Last week, the government and the private sector had their first engagement meeting, and the minister said they would have a number of them.

The two parties had another meeting here on February 2 (Thursday), the event that was meant to discuss challenges that the private sector is grappling with and chart a way forward.

The icing on the cake, Dr Kijaji said,  after Thursday’s meeting, the government and members of the private sector will hold meetings in Arusha, Mwanza, Kagera, Dodoma, and Mbeya and conclude in Dar es Salaam.

Dr Kijaji went on to say that members of the business community will use the meetings as a platform to air the challenges that they are grappling with and chart a way forward.

“We (the government) want to communicate in the same language as investors. They will tell us what hurts them in trade and investment, and we will act accordingly,” she recounted.

He went on to add: “We must trade under the AfCFTA. We will not accept Tanzania as the only marketplace for products from other countries.”

In 2022, Tanzania was one of the eight countries that were selected for the pilot project, “the AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Trade Trial.” The other seven countries are Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, Rwanda, Egypt, Mauritius, and Tunisia. Some 100 traders from Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, and Rwanda are trading under the AfCFTA, whose trading started officially on January 1 last year, according to the government’s document made available to The Citizen last week. According to the document, the products that have been sold so far under the arrangement are tiles, tea, coffee, batteries, pasta, chicken, and processed meat.

Investment, Industry, and Trade (Investment Docket) deputy permanent secretary Ally Gugu said in last week’s engagement meeting that traders in sisal, coffee, and vegetables had shown interest in taking part in the AfCFTA.

“We have created an email address: [email protected],” Mr Gugu said in a video clip. Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) chairperson Angelina Ngalula told The Citizen that AfCFTA is an opportunity to grab.

Given Tanzania’s strategic location and the growing manufacturing base, she insisted that Tanzanian businesses should take advantage of the continental free trade area, which has market access for 1.3 billion people.

“However, we should make sure our policies are enhancing resilience by boosting intra-Africa trade, especially in manufacturing products, to cushion economies from volatile commodity prices from Western and Eastern economies,” recommended Ms Ngalula.

According to the World Economic Forum, African nations currently trade more internationally than with each other, with intra-African trade accounting for only 17 percent of African exports, which is low compared to 59 percent for Asia and 68 percent for Europe.

Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) executive director Leodegar Tenga said manufacturers were ready to grab opportunities brought by the AfCFTA.