MASERU – The Implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of Africa’s flagships projects for achieving Africa’s aspirations regarding “The Africa we want”, as outlined under the Africa Strategic Framework for Development, Agenda 2063. This, the Executive Secretary of SACU Paulina M Elago, stated at the Webinar on the Implementation of AfCFTA in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
She said it seeks to create a single integrated market for goods, services, and promoting cross-border movement of capital as well as persons, which are crucial for deepening economic integration.
She noted that the AfCFTA will enable SACU region and the continent at large to deepen integration, a move that is in line with SACU’s own objectives.
Elago said the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on December 5, 2020 has set June 2021 as deadline to complete all the Built-in Agenda issues for Phase I of the AfCFTA negotiations, including tariff offers and outstanding Rules of Origin.
She said with such an enormous market presented by the AfCFTA, it is incumbent upon the SACU private sector to seize and capitalise on the opportunities to grow their business through regional value chains and cross border trade.
She said without the participation of the business sector, all the efforts will be meaningless, adding that in this regard, the SACU Council of Ministers has agreed to prioritise industrialisation through the development of Regional Value Chains, Export and Investment promotion.
Earlier, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro had shown that the African Free Trade is going to open a large market for Lesotho’s produce across Africa. The country he said is already trading with North America, Europe and South Africa and this opportunity is expected to make known across the globe the products produced in Lesotho.
He, however, showed that the agreement of joining the Africa Free Trade comes with a lot of challenges which will need dedication from manufacturing Basotho products with full support from the government through responsible ministries.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of January 1. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 AU nations.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).