The Trade and Industry Department has urged South African manufacturers and farmers to gear up for new export opportunities as two new trade deals take effect.

The Department says South Africa has put in place the legal and the administrative processes for preferential trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA).

Fifty-four of the 55 AU member states have signed the agreement – including Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

The ministry says in addition, trade for local firms with the UK commences today under the new Economic Partnership Agreement between six southern African countries and the UK.

Minister Ebrahim Patel says trade, especially with other African nations, is a crucial job creator.

African countries begin to officially trade under a new AfCFTA agreement:

Earlier, outgoing AU Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa, called on African countries to prioritise silencing the guns, saying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) will not succeed amid conflict.

The South African President also called on AU member states to prioritise the inclusion of women and the youth within the AfCFTA. 

 “I appeal to all member states to spare no effort in creating conducive environments for our youth and women to benefit in the opportunities presented by the AfCFTAIndeed the focus of our trade agreement should be directed to a larger extent on the development and sustaining small and medium enterprises and not only on well-established big companies.

Trade lawyer Mxolisi Ngulube on AfCFTA:

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that will be the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Backers say it will boost trade among African neighbours while allowing the continent to develop its own value chains. The World Bank estimates it could lift tens of millions out of poverty by 2035.  – Additional information from Reuters