Forming an Africa-wide Free Trade Agreement
Pretoria - Ghana remains a strategic trade partner for South Africa in West Africa and the expansion of trade among African nations holds the key to faster growth and development on the continent, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina.
Speaking at a trade and investment seminar in Accra, Ghana, the Deputy Minister said that access to markets as fellow African countries served as a draw-card for direct investments.
The Deputy Minister’s comments comes as the department is leading a business delegation on an Outward Selling and Investment Mission (OSIM) to Ghana and Nigeria.
The objective of OSIM is to increase trade and investment, and deepen bilateral relations between South Africa and Ghana and Nigeria.
Deputy Minister Masina added that access to markets also serves to transform the region and Africa from small fragmented markets to one large market where companies can achieve economies of scale, lower production costs and ultimately global competitiveness.
“We need to build industrial and manufacturing capacity in each other’s economies.
“Furthermore, the importance of sound investment in infrastructure development in terms of roads, rail, ports, telecommunications and the removal of regulatory barriers that have a negative impact on movements of goods and services, cannot be over-emphasised,” he explained.
Deputy Minister Masina told businesspeople from Ghana and South Africa that the latter’s priority is to champion integration and developmental agenda in Africa in respect of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the recently launched tripartite initiative to integrate SADC, the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
“The Tripartite Free Trade Area will combine the markets of 26 countries with a population of nearly 600 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of $1 trillion. This will form the basis for an Africa-wide Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to create a market of $2.6 trillion,” said the Deputy Minister.
The Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Kweku Hagan, said the infrastructure required to drive Ghana’s economy into a full scale national development trajectory was massive.
This, he said, presents a huge opportunity for foreign direct investments into that sector especially from South Africa.
Hagan urged South African business people to look into a partnership arrangement for the development of the Accra Plains irrigation project and the infrastructure development projects such as free economic zones as they present very useful settings and incentives for investors.
The OSIM will conclude on Friday. – SAnews.gov.za