BUJUMBURA May 26th (ABP) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation organized an awareness-raising workshop on the sub-regional and regional commitments made by Burundi within the framework of regional integration, from May 19 to 20, 2021, in Bujumbura.
The workshop was attended by senior executives of the Office of the President of the Republic of Burundi, those of the prime minister, representatives of different ministries, those of the private sector and other guests.
Some presentations on the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAF) agreement and trade in goods and services in Burundi were made and recommendations were made on that occasion.
In her presentation on the ZLECAF agreement, Mrs. Ange Dorine Irakoze specified that the ZLECAF presents certain challenges including that of lowering customs barriers which means for Burundi to give up a major source of income. She explained that the State budget which largely depends on customs revenue, the latter will be reduced considerably. The presenter also underlined the fact that Burundi is a member of several regional economic communities (RECs) and that it must find the solution of how to harmonize those different economic communities with the ZLECAF for its proper implementation.
For the private sector, that expert pointed out that the private sector is a key party and a beneficiary of the ZLECAF. She also added that the latter presents opportunities but also challenges for the private sector in Burundi.
For opportunities, Mrs. Irakoze cites improving the competitiveness of the private sector at industry and business levels through the exploitation of large-scale production opportunities, access to the continental market and better reallocation of resources, Burundian companies that will be able to access cheaper intermediate materials and inputs, the gradual elimination of customs duties on intra-African trade (up to 90%) will increase the value of exports.
For the challenges that the ZLECAF also presents to the private sector, the consultant underlines the degree of interpretation and the capacity for the appropriation of the agreement and its annexes in order to channel the interest of the private sector, operators of the private sector who must take ownership of the provisions of the agreement and make them meaningful in a Burundian context, the lack of specialized laboratories and equipment for the certification tests of certain products, insufficient electrical energy which will not allow Burundian production and processing companies to increase their volume of production and export-oriented processing export, non-diversified export products, to name but a few.
The participants in the meeting made certain recommendations to the government of Burundi, including that of ratifying the ZLECAF agreement so that Burundi does not remain behind for the economic integration, popularization and appropriation by the ministries concerned, namely the Ministry of Justice, that of Foreign Affairs, the ministry of Trade and other institutions.
This is also the establishment of a joint national committee for monitoring and evaluation, prioritizing intra-African trade by identifying key products and services as well as markets to prioritize in order to stimulate exports to the rest of the continent.
They also include developing the innovative investment and industrialization program, harmonizing legal and regulatory policies on trade, investments, industrialization, restructuring of BBN, exploring new financing instruments to assist in the implementation of the agreement including that of the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) which launched an amount of one billion dollars as a contribution to the process of regional trade integration.