The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will provide business opportunities that will enable African countries to lift citizens of the continent out of poverty post Covid-19, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) Trade and Invest Africa chief director John Rocha has noted.
He was speaking during a virtually held outward trade and investment seminar, held on November 25 and 26, which aimed to increasing bilateral trade and investment between Ethiopia and South Africa.
Rocha told the meeting that strengthening bilateral trade relations between South Africa and Ethiopia was a critical step that would be mutually beneficial to both economies, adding that South Africa’s strategic relationship with Ethiopia rested on three pillars - industrialisation, infrastructure development and strengthening bilateral and intra-Africa trade.
Rocha added that the AfCFTA was a critical foundation upon which intra-Africa trade should be built, saying that it represented an opportunity for African countries to boost growth, reduce poverty and broaden economic inclusion.
“The value of South African exports to Ethiopia has decreased from R103-million in 2014 to a little over R90-million in 2019, while South Africa’s imports from Ethiopia have decreased from R11-million to R10-million in the same period.
“South Africa’s exports to Ethiopia are diversified, covering a number of the DTIC's Re-imagined industrialization policy sectors. This presents potential to increase the volume of the value-added products as well as investments in Ethiopia by South African businesses looking to expand their footprint into the larger market in East Africa.
"The composition of South Africa’s exports to Ethiopia in 2019 indicates that there is a demand for and investment in industrial and agriculture sector inputs,” said Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina.
Ethiopia's State Minister of Trade and Industry, Ambassador Misganu Arega, urged South African businesses to consider lucrative opportunities his country has to offer, insisting that his country was embarking on economic reforms and had put systems in place to guarantee ease of doing business for investors.
“Our current bilateral relationship with South Africa is excellent, but we believe more can be done to improve it for the benefit of our people. For two years now, we’ve been engaged in implementing a massive economic reform programme, which we believe both countries can benefit from.
"Our efforts are anchored by a vision of building a prosperous nation and to create an economic environment that closes the income gap by creating opportunities and access to resource for all,” he added.
He described his country as a place endowed with great diversity of plant, animal and microbial genetic resources and one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a 10% growth average over the past 14 years.
He highlighted textiles and apparel, an integrated sugar industry, agroprocessing and pharmaceuticals as some of the priority sectors the country had identified for industrial development.