Free Trade Arrangement reached by SADC countries

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The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries have agreed to allow over 80 percent of goods to be exported to fellow member states duty free by August 1 this year.

This is under the region’s desire to attain the Free Trade Arrangement (FTA) status.

The agreement was reached during the just ended Trade Law Centre of Southern Africa (Tralac) annual conference on regional trade that the waiver on duty and tariffs was in line with Sadc’s initiative to become a free trade area by the end of 2008.

Zimbabwe is one of the Sadc countries that ratified the treaty that is aimed at enhancing free movement of goods within the region.

Only 20 percent of goods deemed sensitive and detrimental to an individual country’s economy if imported duty free, would be subject to tariffs.

Sadc trade adviser Mr Paul Kalenga told delegates at the meeting that out of the 14 member countries, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were not part of the agreement.

“The tariffs phase-down has been successfully achieved and beginning of August the regional bloc would be formulating structures,” said Mr Kalenga.

He said the stage was reached after an agreement by member states to gradually reduce their tariffs over a period of eight years.

“For the past eight years, countries have been gradually reducing their tariffs as they move to make the region a free trade area,” he said.

The Sadc treaty was designed to eliminate obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour.

In view of establishing a free trade area, a trade protocol was signed in 1996.

The protocol has been implemented from September 2000 after ratification by 11 member states.

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