South Africa Initiates Landmark Exports under AfCFTA, Spearheading Intra-African Trade

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South Africa

In a significant stride toward enhancing intercontinental trade, South Africa marked a historic milestone on Wednesday by conducting its inaugural exports within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Products manufactured in South Africa are now being traded within the AfCFTA, where African nations benefit from exemptions on customs duties to facilitate seamless exchanges.

The moment unfolded as if a new commercial route had just opened between South Africa and Ghana. From the bustling port of Durban, President Cyril Ramaphosa ceremoniously cut the ribbon on a container bound for the Ghanaian port. The shipment contained grinding balls destined for industrial processing.

Ebrahim Patel, the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, sees this as evidence that African countries are not only exchanging finished products but also sharing tools essential for their industrialization.

A burgeoning trade relationship is also emerging with Kenya, poised to dispatch tea and coffee to South Africa shortly. President Cyril Ramaphosa lamented that intra-African exports currently constitute a mere 16% of trade, in stark contrast to the 63% seen in Europe.

South Africa’s entry into this preferential trade zone aligns it with the twelve countries already engaged in reciprocal trade, including Tunisia, Cameroon, and Egypt. While this marks progress, it is still a modest number compared to the 47 nations that have ratified the free-trade agreement. With South Africa’s recent export, the entire sub-region is anticipated to follow suit, with Eswatini pledging to export its sugar in the coming weeks.

Despite the AfCFTA’s official launch on January 1, 2021, countries have been slow to formalize the processes required for seamless goods exchange. South Africa, as an economic powerhouse on the continent, has now joined the select group of nations benefiting from this landmark agreement, paving the way for increased economic cooperation within Africa.

Soukaina Sghir

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