Johannesburg, 11 August 2019 – May 2019 saw the official launch of the much-anticipated African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which not only provides access to a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion, but also effectively places Africa as the world’s largest free trade zone by population since the 1995 creation of the World Trade Organisation.
The agreement which effectively breathes life into the largest trading bloc in the world enabled the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments.
“There is no doubt that the AfCFTA has remarkable potential for intra-continental trade.
The deal cuts duties on 90% of goods. It is expected to boost regional and international trade and to improve on the proportion of trade by African nations with continental neighbours,” Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said.
He said the deal presents a unique opportunity for South African companies to trade with those of other regions, such as in the West and Central Africa regions, where there is a dearth of trade agreements.
But just how ready are South African manufacturers to take advantages of the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA? The assessment of local manufacturers’ readiness will be discussed at the upcoming Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba taking place at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton on 12 and 13 September.
Taking part in this plenary session will be Deloitte Managing Director: Africa and Emerging Markets Dr Martyn Davies, Africa House Director Duncan Bonnett; Department of Trade and Industry Africa Multilateral Economic Relations Chief Director Wamkele Mene; Manufacturing Circle CEO Philippa Rodseth; and SEIFSA Vice-President Alph Ngapo.
Mr Nyatsumba said that panellists in this plenary session will also propose necessary interventions to ensure that companies operating in the metals and engineering sector are ready to take advantage of the opportunities presented and to be competitive.
Now in its fifth year, the Indaba is organized and hosted by SEIFSA. Its core objective is to provide a platform for policy makers, labour representatives and businesses operating in the metals, engineering and related sectors to discuss the challenges facing the sector and collectively to devise sustainable solutions aimed at ensuring its sustainability.
The Indaba will also deliberate on the following topics:
- A Growing Chinese Presence in South Africa: How Should Local Business Respond?
- State-Owned Companies As Economic Enablers, Infrastructure Development and the Metals and Engineering Sector
- “The New Dawn” and South Africa’s Sovereign Credit Rating
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Manufacturing: Is South Africa Ready – Or Will It Be Left Behind?
- The new Automotive Production and Development Programme: Will the Metals and Engineering Sector Benefit?
- The Industrial Policy Action Plan and the National Development Plan: A Progress Report on Their Implementation
- The Economy, Labour Stability and the 2020 MEIBC Negotiations on Wages and Conditions of Employment
The line-up of speakers expected to address delegates includes:
- Tito Mboweni, Minister of Finance;
- Irvin Jim, General Secretary of NUMSA;
- Mangaliso Ndlovu, Minister of Industry and Commerce in Zimbabwe;
- Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises;
- Thembinkosi Mkalipi, Chief Director: Labour Policy and Industrial Relations at the Department of Employment and Labour;
- Tshokolo Nchocho, Industrial Development Corporation CEO;
- Patrick Bond, Professor at the Wits School of Business;
- Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, Deputy Director General: International Trade and Economic Development Division; and
- Cas Coovadia, Acting CEO of Business Unity South Africa.
Mr Nyatsumba said the agenda for the 2019 Indaba is driven by the state that the metals and engineering sector currently finds itself in.
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