International trade

Trade hindered by conflicts in Africa

South Africa has launched its first shipments to other African countries under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTFA), but it’s not all going to be plain sailing.

President Cyril Ramaphosa officiated at a ceremony in Durban to send the shipments on their way. This marked the start of South Africa’s official participation in AfCTFA, which links African countries into the world’s largest free trade area.

Ramaphosa said the implementation of preferential trade on the African continent had the potential to bring transformative change and tremendous opportunities to African economies and businesses.

“The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will accelerate the development of regional and local value chains, offering investors access to a population of 1.7billion people with a fast-growing continental GDP,” he said.

In a subsequent interview, the problems presented by Africa’s conflict areas was highlighted by the AfCTFA secretary general, Wamkele Mene.

He told the financial newspaper Business Day that the successful implementation of the trade pact was threatened by conflicts and coups that disrupted trade flows.

“The most significant [challenges] that the AfCTA has faced since its establishment … are the coups d’état that we have seen in Mali, Niger [and] Gabon. These are countries that are important for regional integration… in East Africa we see that there is a civil conflict in Sudan that is contributing to the lack of integration of Sudan into the rest of the East African economy.

“It [conflict] is a crisis and it is something that is of deep concern and it sets us back as a continent,” Mene said.

Caption: President Cyril Ramaphosa officiating the launch of South Africa’s first AfCFTA shipment at the Port of Durban. He is joined by Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, Transnet Acting Group CEO Michelle Phillips and SARS Regional Director Dan Zulu.Courtesy: GCIS