Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is attending the 7th African Union Meeting of Ministers of Trade (AMOT) underway in Egypt.
AMOT is taking place alongside the inaugural Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF), which is currently taking place in the capital Cairo.
AMOT, which gets underway today, will consider the progress made in the implementation of outstanding issues on trade in goods and services. The 7th AMOT follows the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) during an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government held on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Thus far, 49 countries have signed the agreement and eight countries (Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Eswatini, Chad, Niger, Uganda and Conakry) have ratified the agreement.
South Africa has received Parliamentary approval for the ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement and is expected to deposit its instrument of ratification at the next AU Assembly of Heads of States, which will be held in February 2019.
The agreement will enter into force once twenty-two (22) countries have deposited their instruments of ratification.
The AfCFTA, as one of the flagship projects of the African Union's Agenda 2063, aims to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over one billion people with a combined GDP of approximately US$3.3 trillion.
The AfCFTA is anchored on the development integration approach, which places emphasis on market integration, infrastructure development, and industrial development; in order to boost intra-Africa trade and support the continental development imperatives of sustainable economic growth.
In support of these objectives, the AfCFTA Agreement covers both goods and services under Phase I and will include Investment, Intellectual Property and Competition under Phase II of the negotiations.
Intra-Africa trade stands at between 10%-16% with Africa's share of world trade estimated to be at only 3%.
"This proves that Africa needs to do more to expedite market integration. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that through the AfCFTA, Africa is in a position to increase intra-regional trade to 52% by the year 2022," said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
The outcomes of the AMOT meeting, which will conclude on Thursday, will be submitted and considered by the 32nd Session of African Union Heads of State and Government to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2019.