DESPITE the lengthy time it would take for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be fully implemented, a South African official said progress has been made since it came into being in January this year.
Willem Van Der Spuy, acting deputy director-general of Export Development, Promotion and Outward Investments at Department of Trade and Industry, said significant progress has been made in terms of the fact that over 50 countries have signed and 38 of these countries have deposited instruments of ratification.
He told Xinhua news agency that some African countries have begun reducing trade tariffs through the AfCFTA. ‘We’ve already seen some gains with tariffs being reduced and mostly the rules of origin being negotiated.’
Van Der Spuy’s remarks came in advance of the Durban Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) set from November 15-21 this year. The event is organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the government of South Africa with the theme New Opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
It was expected that more than 10,000 visitors and buyers would attend the event and the trade investments would amount to $40bn.
He stated that the IATF2021 would enable participants and visitors to share market information and invest in opportunities that would support intra-African trade and the economic integration.
Taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA is vital for businesses, Van der Spuy said.
‘What is interesting about this event is that it will create a marketplace where buyers and sellers in the African continent and internationally will be able to engage,’ he said, adding that ‘the event allows South African companies easy access to participants and companies from the continent which will be exhibiting.’