South African Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has said that the newly-approved African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could be a game-changer for the local economy in providing a massive market for its goods and services.
“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 dollars to our GDP, create large numbers of new industrial jobs, attract and expand investment, and strengthen the economy,” Patel said on Thursday.
Noting that exports to the rest of the continent already accounted for 250,000 South African jobs, Patel said: “We will work in close partnership with investors and the local business community to realise this potential.”
In a step to boost the newly-approved AfCFTA, South Africa will be participating in a two-day eighth meeting of African Ministers of Trade (AMOT) set for Addis Ababa in Ethiopia from Friday.
The 8th AMOT meeting will consider key recommendations from the meeting of senior trade officials as well as 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 gathering of African leaders to take place in Niger on 7 July 2019 when the African Union will launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA.
Launched on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, as a comprehensive trade agreement with strong economic developmental objectives for Africa, the deal has seen 52 members of the AU signing it and 24 members having it ratified – thereby paving the way for its operationalisation.
The AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 – four months after South Africa ratified it.