Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies and his deputy, Bulelani Magwanishe are expected to attend the African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) in Kigali, Rwanda on Friday.
Davies and Magwanishe arrived on Thursday night, the department of trade and industry (dti) said.
“The ministers of trade will consider the concluded legal instruments to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) ahead of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government on 21 March 2018,” the department said in a statement on Thursday.
“In his State of the Nation Address President Cyril Ramaphosa said that negotiations towards the Continental Free Trade Agreement were progressing at a brisk pace, and it was expected that the framework agreement could be concluded soon.”
The department said the negotiations were launched in Johannesburg in June 2015, and that significant progress had been made since to set a good basis for establishing the AfCFTA.
The Extraordinary Summit in March will be held to consider the AfCFTA legal instruments and Declaration launching the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the department said.
“The envisaged AfCFTA offers an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment. South Africa is, therefore, committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of approximately US$2.6 trillion,” it said.
“Beyond the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products in West Africa and North Africa. The AfCFTA is being pursued under the development integration approach.
“This combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value-added products, as well as alleviate the chronic infrastructure deficit in Africa.”
The department said that the AfCFTA was also expected to facilitate the movement of goods and services among African countries and will result in “harmonisation of customs documentation” and processes thus enhancing trade facilitation.