Johannesburg – South Africa has signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement with the African Union.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies confirmed Sunday’s signing of the 250-pages document in a video put out by the department of Trade and Industry (dti) on Twitter.
In March President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali protocol indicating South Africa’s commitment to signing the trade agreement.
However, Pretoria failed to join 44 other African countries in signing, on the grounds that there were certain areas within the agreement that required further clarification in terms of South Africa’s constitutional and internal processes, Davies explained in March.
Davies reiterated this reasoning in Sunday’s video confirming that the signing was going ahead after the necessary vetting had been undertaken by legal advisors.
The government also signed two annexures on trading goods and services on the continent.
“We are very happy to be part of this club,” said Davies. He said the dti would “without delay” present the proposal to Cabinet to send the agreement to parliament for ratification.
The signed agreement will increase intra-regional trade and further more complex levels of production on the African continent.
The AU Summit currently underway in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott is focusing on four broad thematic areas - the fight against corruption, institutional reform of the AU, consolidating the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and Peace and Security as introduced by former Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in 2015.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has told leaders that government and ordinary citizens should stand together in the fight against corruption. He said the money lost due to corruption on the continent could be used to finance improvements to people’s lives.