BUJUMBURA October 25th (ABP) – “Compared to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAF), Burundi has very significant strengths and opportunities to seize that can enable it to take greater advantage of the opportunities offered by the creation of the continental market. To seize these opportunities, Burundi must correct certain weaknesses and face threats”. Those are, at least, the words of Dr. Salomon Nsabimana, professor of economics at the University of Burundi and in various private universities. He was speaking Thursday, October 20, 2022 in Bujumbura during the presentation of a new study on the importance of ZLECAF for the Burundian people and the opportunities it represents for the emergence of Burundi, a study commissioned by Center for Development and Enterprises (CDE-Great Lakes).
Indeed, a political commitment of the State in favor of the ZLECAF, a legal framework on the conditions of exercise of the commercial activities, a national committee on the facilitation of the exchanges a strong endowment of the country in various natural resources mining, agricultural, hydro-electric, a dynamic private sector and abundant and cheaper labor are the strengths noted by that economist. Those are coupled with a certain number of opportunities that he had the opportunity to enumerate in that case a growing external market, a fall in the prices of finished products for the benefit of consumers and the access of producers to raw materials. cheaper firsts. He also, in that regard, mentioned foreign competition which encourages an upgrading of Burundian companies to face competition, the enlargement of the job market and the geostrategic position of Burundi.
However, says the expert, those strengths and opportunities are threatened by a panoply of weaknesses and threats. It lists in particular the poor appropriation of the various trade policy texts by economic operators, the insufficiency and low quality of the exportable supply and the inadequacy of transport infrastructure and logistics for the storage and preservation of exportable products.
Added to all that is a business climate that is not favorable to the development of production, etc. Moreover, these weaknesses are also twinned with a set of threats, which, at the slightest extent, constitute a bottleneck to the operationalization of the ZLECAF. Here the expert inventories, by way of illustration, the non-harmonization of trade policies in the region which constitutes an obstacle to the development of trade, African foreign competition associated with the opening of national borders. There is also the loss of customs revenue following the liberalization of trade, but also and above all the ineffectiveness of free movement and the right of establishment.
According to Dr. Salomon, the ZLECAF should be the largest common market in the world in terms of membership since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). If launched by all 55 states, it will cover more than 1.2 billion people. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA/UNECA) estimates that the AfCFTA could boost intra-African trade by $35 billion in 2022 and increase continental exports by 6%, he added.
In his speech for the occasion delivered shortly before the presentation, the Executive Director of the CDE-Great Lakes Mr. Aimable Manirakiza had indicated that in terms of trade, Burundi will be able to benefit from a market of 1.2 billion consumers (representing more than 2,500 billion dollars of cumulative GDP), and through the reduction of trade costs and the facilitation of trade, the ZLECAF offers Burundian companies an opportunity to take advantage of the rapid growth of the African market and contribute to its growth.
However, he qualified, to take full advantage of the privileges and advantages of the ZLECAF, Burundian investors must ensure that their production involves processing or sufficient added value.
That implies that the need for Burundi to boost its production and increase its exports, and to create an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment, in particular through small and medium-sized enterprises, he added. According to him, beyond the issues related to the diversification of exportable supply and goods markets, and improvement of the competitiveness of national companies, the development of the supply and quality of service infrastructure, and capacity building entrepreneurial women and young people, national ownership of the ZLECAF is of paramount importance to drive efforts to improve trade performance and take full advantage of trade opening on a continental scale on the one hand and other hand the strategies of the implementation of the ZLECAF in Burundi and its current obstacles.
For more information, Burundi signed the ZLECAF Agreement on July 02, 2018 in Nouakchott in Mauritania while its ratification dates from 06/17/2021. For some opinions in that process of trade opening at the continental level, Burundi has made considerable progress in the sense that a national strategy for the implementation of ZLECAF has been developed and validated. That autonomous national strategy is part of Burundi’s efforts in the search for trade performance and trade facilitation.
That strategy has the overall objective of facilitating the implementation of ZLECAF in order to promote Burundi’s trade with its African partners, a check on the site by ABP has revealed.