The Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies and the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Luwellyn Landers have arrived in Sharm el-Shaik, Egypt to attend the 3rd Tripartite Summit. The Summit will launch the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
The launch follows four years of negotiations among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community. This TFTA represents an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 625 million people and a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.6 trillion.
Minister Davies says the launch signifies the conclusion of negotiations on the legal instrument and will be followed by a process to finalise negotiations on tariffs and rules of origin – the key elements of a functional free-trade area. The Agreement establishes a framework for tariff preferences and other commitments.
“This is an important milestone in the implementation of the development integration agenda in Africa, aimed at promoting market integration, industrial and infrastructure development. In the context of markedly improved growth prospects for Africa alongside intensifying global competition for Africa’s resources and markets, the need to enhance access to African markets is more urgent. The TFTA is an important initiative in accelerating regional integration efforts aimed at ensuring that African countries trade with each other on terms, at least as favourable as other competitors,” says Minister Davies.
He adds that the launch of the TFTA will be followed by the launch of negotiations on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) at the African Union Summit, in South Africa, later this week.
“Once established, the CFTA will offer a market of over 1 billion people and a GDP of $2-trillion. The African market is crucial for South Africa’s industrialisation and job creation efforts as one of the key destinations for our value-added exports,” highlights Minister Davies.
Prior to his arrival in Egypt, Minister Davies attended the informal World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial meeting in Paris, France at the OECD. He also met the South Africa and United States delegates who attended a meeting facilitated by the two governments to find an amicable solution regarding access for US bone-in chicken cuts.The meeting was attended by industry players of both countries where an agreement was reached on a framework to restore market access into the South African market for US bone-in chicken cuts. The agreement will secure continued participation of South Africa in the reauthorised Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that is being extended by the US congress for a further 10 years.
Source : South African Government