GITEGA May 29th (ABP) – Burundian senators have unanimously passed the bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAF).
The bill was presented on Thursday May 27 by the Minister of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. Déo Guide Rurema, during the plenary session of the senate which was chaired by the 1st vice president of the Senate, Mrs. Spès Caritas Njebarikanuye.
In his explanatory memorandum, Minister Rurema indicated that once operational, the ZLECAF will increase Burundian intra-African trade by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers for its trade with African countries.
Thus, he explained, the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of that bill is necessary to strengthen both intra-regional and intra-African trade, especially since the current global economic atmosphere is growing more and more stable.
Also, ZLECAF could improve food security, promote industrialization and supplement the efforts made by Burundi in the implementation of its national development program (PND) 2018-2027. Senators in turn asked questions and made recommendations. Among the series of questions, they notably asked the advantages for Burundi for belonging to several regional economic communities (RECs). They explained by noting that Burundi is already a member of three RECs (EAC, ECCAS and COMESA) and has submitted its application for membership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Minister Rurema replied that the “Regional Integration” pillar of the 2025 vision and of the 2018-2027 PND aims for Burundi to benefit from regional integration to increase and diversify its economy.
Thus, the true merit is its strengths and its geographical position as a potential hub for trade between, on the one hand, Central Africa and East Africa, and on the other hand, Central Africa and southern Africa.
As indicated in the PND 2018-2027, Burundi has a vision of becoming an emerging regional power by 2027.
Burundi expects regional integration and international cooperation, the expansion of its economic and political space, the achievement of an economy of scale, the development of trade as well as the guarantee of peace and collective security. The goal is to make regional integration a real lever for development.
The senators also asked the minister to tell them the RECs that have succeeded in eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers in their trade and the impact this has had on the economies compared to the countries where those barriers remain.
The Minister replied that the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers is among the goals of the creation of the RECs and this is being done gradually.
As an example, he cited the case of the East African Community which has set up a framework for monitoring and eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers which could hinder the effective implementation of a common market.
To that end, a national committee for monitoring and eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers has been set up by decree of the second vice presidency.
Regular meetings are held at national and regional level to see the possibilities of eliminating the various barriers that remain. He meant that progress has been made in monitoring and eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers.
He pointed out that the transit time for goods from Dar-es-Salaam or Mombassa to Bujumbura has significantly decreased. Some senators recommended that the government provide support to economic operators in Burundi so that they are competitive with operators from other African countries and can supply their products to other countries without being satisfied with supply alone. The bill was passed unanimously by the plenary assembly of 39 Senators.