The tariff schedule negotiations under the free trade agreement (FTA) between partners in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) are expected to be concluded by the end of July.
The tariff schedules were an important, commercially meaningful step towards the implementation of the tripartite, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) FTA, which will create a market of 26 countries, South African Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies said on the sidelines of the Manufacturing Indaba on Tuesday.
Davies had delivered a keynote address at the Indaba, outlining the regional and local development industrialisation plans that were under way to jumpstart South Africa’s lagging manufacturing sector and reverse the country’s deindustrialisation.
When the tariff schedules are concluded, it will open up more opportunities for trade for Sacu members.
This was particularly critical as South Africa and other African countries move to pursue their own reindustrialisation ambitions, which, in isolation of its African counterparts, would be futile.
South Africa’s horizon in terms of industrialisation has to be regional, as none of Africa’s countries have the size or market to support their own deep industrialisation or to support industrialisation that takes place in other regions on the continent, he told delegates.
Deep industrialisation depends on South Africa creating large regional markets and expanding the free trade areas existing in the SADC and other regional economic communities, thereby promoting more intra-Africa trade.
The approach was similar to trends adopted in successful emerging economies, Davies said, citing countries like India and China that were building their domestic markets as the basis to expand their productive capabilities and move up the value chain.