The trade war between the United States and China is not helping the global economy and will be in focus during this week's World Economic Forum on Africa, South Africa's finance minister Tito Mboweni said on Monday. PHOTO: National Treasury via Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The trade war between the United States and China is not helping the global economy and will be in focus during this week's World Economic Forum on Africa, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Monday.

South Africa will on September 4-6 host the forum in Cape Town which will, under the theme "Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution" discuss the continent's readiness for the phenomenon, as well as cooperation in sustainable development, digitalisation and stability on the continent.

"The biggest issue which forms part of the background to the meeting is the global trade tensions which are consuming the world," Mboweni told a news conference in Johannesburg ahead of the forum.

"The trade war between the US and China is not helpful, is affecting the markets generally, whether it’s the commodity market or it’s the currency market."

"The issue of the trade war and these trade tensions is a very important one for us and I’m quite certain that during the conversations this issue will keep coming to the fore, in order that this message must get through, particularly to those people in Washington, that these trade wars are not helpful, to us and to the global economy and that the quicker these issues are dealt with the better," he said.

Mboweni said the WEF Africa conference was not a consultative meeting or a place to exchange ideological positions, but rather a forum to exchange ideas and the state of the global economy in general, as well as African economy.

It was also an opportunity to discuss the state of play in business dealings, he added.

The forum will be held a couple of months after the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which covers a market of more than 1.2-billion people in 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than US$3.2-trillion.

If successful, AfCFTA would be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization and estimates show it has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties on 90 percent of goods. 

On Monday, Mboweni said the agreement was "a gift of the gods in that South Africa stands to benefit more".

"We stand to gain tremendously from this because of our industrial base," he said. "The largest industrial park in Africa, being Ekurhuleni, is going to benefit the most out of this, through the production and export of manufactured goods."

Mboweni declined to answer questions on the reception to an economic blue print for South Africa published by the National Treasury last week, saying Monday's media briefing was neither the time nor the place for that.

- African News Agency (ANA)