Johannesburg, 18 September 2018 – In March this year, the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with the main agreement having been signed on 22 March 2018 at an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State in Kigale, Rwanda.
The AfCFTA is intended to build an integrated market in Africa, that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a gross domestic product of about US$2.6 trillion. The integrated market will, in turn, provide new export opportunities for South African products in West Africa, North Africa and the rest of the continent.
But just how much progress has been made to date? Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Economist Marique Kruger is of the view that there is still substantial outstanding work on an Agreement on Trade in Goods and its various annexes, resulting in a substantial number of countries not having signed, pending the conclusion of all outstanding agreements and protocols.
Commenting on tariff, Ms Kruger said Ministers have agreed on a level of ambition of 90% coverage of tariff lines for tariff liberalisation, with phase-in periods of five years for most countries.
“Tariff negotiations will, however, be between countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that do not already have preferential trade arrangements,” Ms Kruger said.
Commenting on some of the challenges, Ms Kruger said some RECs have internal levies for fiscal purposes that will create problems if they have to remove tariffs against other countries or RECs.
The assessment of progress made to date in the implementation of the AfCFTA and the likely implications that it will have for manufacturing in Southern Africa will be debated at the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba taking place at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton on Thursday and Friday this week.
Participating in this plenary session will be Department of Trade and Industries Chief Director for Africa Multilateral Economic Relations Wamkele Mene, Africa House Director Duncan Bonnett and Trade and Investment Policy Consultant Mbini Kutta.
SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said that other topics that will feature prominently during the 2018 Indaba include:
- How much of the National Development Plan has been implemented – and is it still relevant?
- Constraints to investing in the Metals and Engineering Sector and improving trade on the African continent
- Exploring and Leveraging the Link Between the Metals and Engineering Sector and the Mining, Construction and Auto Manufacturing Industries
- Radical Economic Transformation, the Black Industrialists Programme and the Metals and Engineering Sector
- Administered Prices As Factors Negatively Affecting South Africa’s International Competitiveness: Can we Change the Situation?
- Innovation and Excellence as Strategic Levers for Global Competitiveness
Among the high-profile speakers expected to address the conference are:
- Cabinet Ministers Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Dr Zweli Mkhize and Pravin Gordhan;
- Business leaders like Black Business Council CEO Kganki Matabane, ArcelorMittal General Manager: Africa Overland Alph Ngapo, Hazleton Pump International Managing Director Mathys Wehmer, Atlantis Foundries CEO Mervyn Moodley, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe, Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama, PWC Africa Director Andrew Shaw, National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA Director Nico Vermeulen and Master Builders Executive Director Roy Mnisi;
- Policy makers and civil service representatives like Department of Trade and Industry (Dti) Director-General Lionel October
- Representatives of global organisations like World Bank Group Lead Economist John Gabriel and International Finance Corporation Senior Investment Officer Paul Mukasa;
- Civil society leaders like Council for Scientific and Industrial Research CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini; Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse Executive Director Wayne Duvenage and Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Executive Secretary Lawson Naidoo; and
- Politicians like ANC Economic Transformation Head Enoch Godongwana, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry Geordin Hill-Lewis and DA Shadow Minister for Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone.
For more details on the conference, please visit www.meindaba.seifsa.co.za.
Tel: (011) 298 9411 / 082 602 1725
Web: www.meindaba. seifsa.co.za