• President Cyril Ramaphosa to officially launch the first shipment
  • Historic step in expanding trade relations
  • SA to also host the meeting of the Council of African Trade Ministers from 30-31 January at the Durban ICC

Trade under the new preferences set out in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa, Ebrahim Patel on Wednesday 31 January 2024 at Pier 1 in Durban. This follows the publication on Friday 26 January in the Government Gazette of the terms under which South Africa will participate in the new free trade agreement.

Twelve countries, including South Africa, have finalised their legal modalities to enable trade to commence in thousands of products lines, ranging from food and beverages to steel products and equipment, taxis, pharmaceutical and personal care products, chemical products and household goods such as fridges and televisions.

The event on Wednesday will include a display of products due to be exported and the witnessing of the first container of goods loaded onto a ship destined for markets covered by the start of trade under the AfCFTA.

The ceremony will take place at Pier 1 at the Port of Durban from 9-11am and will be attended by South African Cabinet members, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene and Trade Ministers from the Southern African Customs Union and a number of other African countries. This event follows the launch of the Guided Trade Initiative by the AfCFTA to boost participation by firms in the free trade area.

South Africa is simultaneously co-hosting a meeting of the Council of African Trade Ministers to consider further measures to strengthen the AfCFTA, on 30-31 January 2024 at the Durban ICC. Approximately 25 trade ministers and officials from about 40 countries are expected to attend.

The AfCFTA is a high ambition trade agreement, which aims to progressively bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.3 billion people, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade, investment, trade in goods and services, amongst others. By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all services sectors of Africa’s economy.

South Africa is a State Party to the AfCFTA Agreement. With a GDP of approximately $406 billion (World Bank, 2022), South Africa represents one of the larger economies on the continent. The successful implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to enhance intra-Africa trade, accelerate growth and promote intra-Africa investments among others.

It  will also provide South African exporters with new market access opportunities to key markets in the African Continent beyond the Southern Africa Development Community and can unlock growth in the economy, whilst providing market access in turn for other African countries to the SA market.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
Tel: (012) 394 1643
Mobile: 079 5083 457
WhatsApp: 074 2998 512
Email: BLukhele@thedtic.gov.za or Mediarelations@thedtic.gov.za
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
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