Free Trade deal to turn Africa's fortunes around

Monday, March 12, 2018

An agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is envisaged to offer opportunities to create large economies of scale has been reached, said the Department of Trade and Industry.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and his Deputy Bulelani Magwanishe attended the recent African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) two-day meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, that concluded on Friday.

The AfCFTA, which also offers an opportunity to create a bigger market and to improve the prospects of the African continent’s ability to attract investment, was among the key issues discussed by Ministers at the meeting.

“The African Ministers of Trade considered and approved, for submitting to the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government, the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA as well as the Protocols on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services that will form part of the Agreement.

“The Ministers also approved a Work Programme for concluding the outstanding issues for implementation that will start after the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the AU Heads of State and Government that will take place on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda,” said the dti.

Negotiations of the AfCFTA were launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2015.

At the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in January 2018 in Ethiopia, it was agreed to hold an Extraordinary Summit on 21 March 2018 to consider the AfCFTA legal instruments and Declaration launching the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“South Africa is, therefore, committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of approximately US$2.6 trillion. Beyond the Tripartite Free Trade Area, the AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products and services in West Africa and North Africa,” said the department on Sunday.

The AfCFTA is being pursued under the development integration approach. This approach combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints.

“The AfCFTA is also expected to facilitate the movement of goods and services among African countries. It will also result in harmonisation of customs documentation and processes thus enhancing trade facilitation,” said the dti. -

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