International Relations / Africa News
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, was among the African leaders who gathered at the 6th African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) meeting in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss continental free trade issues.
The meeting was preceded by the 11th Meeting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Negotiations Forum and the 6th Meeting of the AfCFTA Committee of Senior Officials of Trade.
The push for African free trade gained momentum in March when an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government resulted in the signing of the AfCFTA Agreement by 44 countries and the signing of the declaration establishing the AfCFTA by 43 countries.
The AfCFTA offers an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment. South Africa is committed to a co-ordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa of over one billion people with a GDP of approximately US$3.3 trillion.
Beyond the Tripartite Free Trade Area, the AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products in West Africa and North Africa.
The AfCFTA is being pursued under the development integration approach that combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s production capacity and supply constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value added products, and to alleviate the infrastructure deficit on the continent.
Deputy Minister Magwanishe said that the conclusion of the annexes to the Protocol on Trade in Goods and the annexes to the Protocol on Dispute Settlement is a significant achievement.
“The conclusion of this work enables South Africa to rapidly commence domestic processes for signature of the AfCFTA,” he said.
He explained that the disciplines on modalities for tariff liberation must support the creation of commercially meaningful value-chains in Africa to attract investment in job creating sectors.
The outcomes of the 6th AMOT meeting will be submitted and considered by the UN Assembly of Heads of State and Government to be held in Mauritania next month.