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AfDB, blocs to discuss SA trade policy

THE African Development Bank (AfDB) is working with three regional blocs to resolve South Africa’s recent trade embargo which stipulates that the bulk of procurement should be from local sources.

BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

The regional trade blocs are the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

Late last year, South Africa enacted the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), which stipulates that 75% of procurement should be from local sources, apparently in a bid to protect South African manufacturers.

This however, has negatively affected Zimbabwe as South Africa is only taking up 12% of the country’s exports from a previous share of 30%.

AfDB regional director Ebrima Faal said the bank was working with the three blocs in approaching the issue, as the policy already violates free trade practices enunciated in the Sadc Trade Protocol.

“When it comes to the capacity side, we are working extremely closely with the tripartite to try to harmonise as much as possible [trade] practices in the region,” said Faal.

“So we will be looking at the matter in that context with the South African decision, how it works out in that process and we will continue to dialogue with all the members to see how we can come up with uniform practices as a community.”

South Africa continues to be the country’s main trading partner, accounting for more than 60% of Zimbabwe’s international trade volumes.

Regional Integration and International Co-operation minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the move taken by South Africa was against the whole idea of fostering trade ties within a regional integration context.

“Quite clearly, that [position] is a non-tariff barrier and it must be debated and discussed. They are pretending to be opening up their markets yet in reality they have adopted a protectionist stance and continue to implement policies that are detrimental to the whole integration agenda,” she said.

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