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Work to strengthen the ambitious African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is under way. The agreement, which seeks to ensure a common market for goods and services on the African Continent over time, was given the green light by the African Union in 2018 and became operational on the 1st of January 2021.
South Africa is hosting the 13th Council of African Trade Ministers at the International Convention Centre in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal. The group of ministers are seized with the task of looking at what further measures can be taken to strengthen the continental trade pact.
An economically integrated African trading entity is expected to boost job creation prospects and development across the continent.
It’s one of the key economic integration pillars envisaged by the AU’s Agenda 2063 vision.
And according to the Council’s chair, good progress has been made with the introduction of the AfCFTA Secretariat’s Guided Trading Initiative.
“Guided trade initiative, lots of countries, that’s why sitting together, telling the countries what the actions are we can do. Tanzania, something is the issue of logistics, we have started discussions, simplified,” says Ashatu Kijaji, Chair: Council of African Trade Ministers.
The African Trade Ministers’ Council chair raised the fact that much work needed to be done in improving member states’ logistics to make intra-Africa trading that much smoother. And with the political will being there to make the trade pact a success, it seems that the private sector as well as other groups are on board to support the trade initiative.
“Our private sector is fully engaged; the private sector expresses a very strong commitment in the implementation of this agreement. Youth, very enthusiastic about this agreement and its potential for them, increasing scope of business and investment, civil society has been very positively received,” says Wamkele Mene, Secretary General: AfCFTA.
Private sector players say the only way the proper implementation of the AfCFTA can take place is by countries individually taking responsibility for making sure that resolutions taken by member states are actioned locally.
“The first thing to deal with is establish the implementation, the AfCFTA implementation committee in each of the countries that we connect. In Ghana to ensure that the things are resolved here, being talked about here are trickled down to the member states in terms of implementation,” says Nwiabu Legborsi Nuka, Executive Director: Nigeria Private Sector Alliance.
South Africa’s Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel says with the deal now being done; the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will [start].
“We now need to work closely with each other to rollout more trade in goods and extend it to services…to be followed soon by Botswana and Namibia,” says Patel.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Patel will formally launch South Africa’s trade under the new preferences set out in the African Continental Free Trade Area on Wednesday.
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)