The South Africa pavilion is seen at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2018.(Xinhua/Sadat)
JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Xinhua) -- South African Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel on Wednesday praised the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, saying it will improve Africa's trade and grow the economies.
He was speaking as the country's Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Fikile Slovo Majola left for a meeting of African Ministers of Trade (AMOT) in Ethiopia.
The trade ministers will discuss and agree on the outstanding issues which include rules of origin, tariff offers and trade in services of the AfCFTA on June 7-9.
"If we can get the institutions and infrastructure right and build a deep business and social partnership in South Africa, the AfCFTA can add many billions of rand to gross domestic product (GDP). It can create large numbers of new industrial jobs, attract and expand investment and strengthen the economy," said Patel.
He said AfCFTA is a game-changer for the local economy, with a potential to provide a massive market for South African goods and services.
"We will work in close partnership with investors and the local business community to realize this potential," Patel said.
Majola said the outcomes of the 8th AMOT meeting will be tabled at the Assembly of Heads of States of the AU which will take place in Niger on July 7. The Assembly of Heads of States of the AU will launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA when they meet.
Chairman of the African Union (AU) and Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L), President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou (C) and Chairperson of AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat (R) unveils a plaque of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. (Xinhua/Gabriel Dusabe)
He pointed out that the AfCFTA will give the country an opportunity to expand to new markets in North and West Africa, beyond the South African region.
"This will provide South African exporters and investors with much needed legal certainty and predictability of markets across Africa," he said.
The AfCFTA aims to integrate the African countries into a single market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA will increase intra-Africa trade from the current 10-16 percent to approximately 52 percent by the year of 2022.