Gaborone — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi says Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is one of the key drivers that can position Africa as an economic powerhouse.
With the agreement, there should be no reason why SADC and Africa as a whole could not be major players in global GDP at par with other regions of the world, he told the 49th SADC-Parliamentary Forum participants Friday.
Dr Masisi said AfCFTA offered a golden opportunity with the potential to open new horizons for regional economic cooperation in Africa.
"The entry into force of the AfCFTA on January 1 is the most significant milestone in Africa's integration agenda since it covers a market of close to 1.27 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of over P25 trillion," he said.
He stressed that successful implementation of the SADC integration agenda was a prerequisite for AfCFTA realisation.
Domestication of AfCFTA at national level was also central to effective implementation of the trade agreement, he said.
President Masisi expressed the hope that continuous negotiations within the AfCTFA framework would move beyond trade in goods and services to cover issues such as intellectual property rights, investment and competition policy.
"These issues are directly connected to trade flows and they need to be further ironed out to ensure that the free trade area operates without hindrances," President Masisi said.
Turning to the forum's theme, Leveraging the AfCFTA for Post-COVID Economic Recovery in Southern Africa: The Role of SADC Parliamentary Forum and National Parliaments, he said it demonstrated conviction to overcome the negative effects of COVID-19.
"The advent of COVID-19 has sparked a paradigm shift in the way communities and governments have been doing business, thus it demands that we foster regional cooperation that will revive tourism, mining and other sectors of the economy, which will essentially contribute to the economic recovery of our countries," he said.
He applauded the role played by SADC parliamentarians towards ensuring effective response to COVID-19 in their respective countries.
Such a response would be more critical during the rebuilding of national economies, the President said.
He said for quick economic recovery to take effect, SADC legislators should move beyond political boundaries and put their nations and the region at heart.
President Masisi noted that SADC's common values of unity, peace and development remained the foundation for ensuring the region collectively emerged stronger and more unified in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Source : BOPA