South African government steps up the pace of African trade integration
In a step to boost the newly-approved African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), South Africa will be participating in a meeting of African Ministers of Trade in Ethiopia.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Fikile Slovo Majola left for Addis Ababa for the 8th meeting of African Ministers of Trade (AMOT), scheduled for 7-8 June 2019.
The 8th AMOT meeting will consider key recommendations from the meeting of Senior Trade Officials. The aim of the meeting is to consider and agree on the outstanding issues which include Rules of Origin, tariff offers and Trade in Services. The outcomes of the ministers meeting will be tabled at the Assembly of Heads of States of the African Union which will take place in Niger on 7 July 2019. The Assembly of Heads of States of the African Union will launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA was launched on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU). It is a comprehensive trade agreement with strong economic developmental objectives for Africa.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel noted that the establishment of the AfCFTA can be a game-changer for the local economy, providing a massive market for SA goods and services. He noted that exports to the rest of the continent already accounts for about a quarter million of South African jobs.
“If we can get the institutions and infrastructure right and build a deep business and social partnership in South Africa, the AfCFTA can add many billions of rand to GDP, create large numbers of new industrial jobs, attract and expand investment and strengthen the economy,” he said.
“We will work in close partnership with investors and the local business community to realise this potential,” added Minister Patel.
Deputy Minister Majola said thus far 52 members of the AU have signed the Agreement and 24 members have ratified it.
“South Africa deposited the instrument of ratification during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government on 10 February 2019. The AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019,” said Majola.
As a flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, the AfCFTA aims to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over a billion people with a combined GDP of approximately US$3.3 trillion. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA will increase intra-Africa trade from the current 10%-16% to approximately 52% by the year 2022.
Deputy Minister Majola added that the AfCFTA would South Africa an opportunity to expand to new markets in North and West Africa, beyond the SADC region.
“This will provide South African exporters and investors with much needed legal certainty and predictability of markets across Africa,” indicated Majola.