African businesses need to drive continent’s free trade pact – FNB

FNB regional director for Gauteng East, Zak Sivalingum. PHOTO: Supplied by FNB

JOHANNESBURG – The much-touted African Continental Free Trade Area presents compelling potential benefits for businesses on the continent, but not many are loudly voicing their support of the agreement, probably due to skepticism in a region with a long history of trying, but failing to get its countries to pull in the same direction, a senior First National Bank official said on Monday.

Most African countries have signed the AfCFTA, which aims to create a single market for goods and services and facilitate the free movement of people, capital, goods and services among all participants.

If successfully implemented, the free trade pact would creation a massive market of close to three billion people with a combined GDP of well over US$2 trillion.

“But while these big picture predictions are all good and well, many businesses across Africa are still wondering what, if anything, the successful implementation of AfCFTA will mean for them, and whether it is actually in their best interests to be supporting the initiative,” FNB regional director for Gauteng East Zak Sivalingum said.

“The short answer to that question is a definitive, yes. If for no other reasons than the fact that AfCFTA has the potential to create an intra-African trade market that most businesses would otherwise never have thought possible.”