Intra-African Trade 'A Matter of Urgency'

Supporting intra-Africa trade should be a matter of urgency, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.

“The recently launched agreement for the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area has made it more urgent to promote intra-Africa trade, and that should be at the top of the continent’s economic agenda,” Thabethe said at the South Africa-Ghana Business Forum in Cape Town on Friday.

The free trade area centres on building Africa’s biggest free trade bloc, merging the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“Strengthening trade and investment links with the continent is a key policy priority of the government, both to benefit our economy and more importantly, those of our partners on the continent.”

Thabethe said African countries had the potential to develop into modern industrialised states that could compete on the world stage, due to their richness in natural resources.

The forum, hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry, took place on the second day of the state visit to South Africa by Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, who was accompanied by a strong business delegation.

On Friday the department, through Trade and Investment South Africa, also signed a memorandum of understanding on trade investment the Ghanaian Investment Authority.

Since 2003, bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing, with annual trade statistics indicating South African exports to Ghana to the value of R2.523-billion and imports from Ghana worth R84.275-million.