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News from Africa

An Insight into South Africa’s Thinking on the AfCFTA and Why AfCFTA is so Important for the Continent

This Newsletter refers constantly to the AfCFTA and how the multilateral negotiations are going. Recently President Cyril Ramaphosa told a Canadian delegation that work is underway to dismantle intra-African trade tariff barriers as well as non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that hinder market access to the African market. “As continental supply chains become increasingly integrated, Africa’s manufacturing capacity will expand rapidly, presenting opportunities in areas like petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, textiles, fabricated metals and many others,” he said. The President added that this will drive infrastructure investment, not only in the roads, rail lines and ports that will handle the movement of goods and people, but in the energy and telecommunications networks needed to facilitate production and exchange. This is a clear statement on why SA, as well as 43 other African countries, are throwing their weight behind the free trade area.

Meanwhile, over 50% of CEOs surveyed about the impact of the AfCFTA do not know where to access useful information on the project, according to a new survey. The 2022 CEO Trade Survey Report by PAFTRAC, in association with African Business, Afreximbank and other partners, surveyed over 800 private sector players between March and June 2022. It found that there was significant optimism that the AfCFTA will revitalise Africa trade but significant demand for information on how the project will work. Without the right information, positive legislative moves could be stymied by hesitancy on the ground, leading to confusion in border posts and boardrooms. 59%  of CEOs surveyed called for a designated in-country office for information, while 70% called for a fully functioning online one-stop shop for information. 67% called for workshop and information sessions, while 71% called for the availability of more trade information and market opportunities. The AfCFTA Secretariat has said that plans are in the works to improve the information flow to businesses, including developing a thorough understanding of the AfCFTA among the business community, SME education, skills development and targeted support.

A new study by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has made it clear that greater trade opportunities between countries drives them towards sustainable development and reduces the chances of war and conflict. The study, “Realizing the Triple Nexus and Trade: Towards A New Agenda For Africa,” argues that trade integration in Africa could also promote humanitarian and security throughout the continent. It states that a triple nexus approach involving the promotion of humanitarian, development and peace in Africa is more attainable when accompanied with increased trade amongst African countries. The study was presented to the recent African Union Policy Conference on Promoting the Peace, Security, and Development, held in Morocco at the end of October. The promotion of peace between nations was a fundamental objective of both the European Union and Mercosur, the customs union of South America.


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