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 Organization.
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.
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 he said.
But just how ready are South African manu-facturers 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 Conf erence Centre in Sandton on 11 and 12 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.
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.