Zambia's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

JOHANNESBURG - The Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) has urged the government to expedite the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The call came during a workshop held by the ministry of commerce, trade and industry in collaboration with the chamber, the African Union Commission , the Economic Commission for Africa's Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA) and the African Trade Policy Centre to discuss Zambia's strategy in applying the trade pact, which has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties on 90 percent of goods.

ZACCI president (ZACCI) Chabuka Kabwesha told the workshop that the southern African country's private sector supported AfCFTA, noting that the services sector and sectoral linkages through national and regional value chains would equally grow in scale and demand.

ECA regional director for southern Africa Said Adejumobi said the fast pace at which the AfCFTA project was moving meant there was need for Zambia to keep the momentum and ratify the pact.

"With Zambia's national implementation strategy in place and multi-stakeholder engagements ongoing, we hope that Zambia will reach a national consensus and the AfCFTA will be ratified," he said.

"The AfCFTA has come with a lot of expectations, aspirations, and opportunities, but also some concerns and fears about the unknown - about whether we are ready. Part of the concern is about the ability of local industries to compete within a liberalized regional market and about jobs associated with it and possible reduction in government revenue. However, fear is the enemy of progress."

African News Agency (ANA)