SALGA inaugural dialogue aimed at connecting Local Government to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) applauded
The inaugural dialogue aimed at connecting Local Government and objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been welcomed as a progressive platform to stimulate continent’s-wide inclusive and sustainable industrial development amounting to $450 billion of regional income.

The two-day hybrid inaugural dialogue on the AfCFTA taking place in Sandton is being graced by the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the United Cities and Local Government of Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, MEC of Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Development, Parks Tau SALGA President Cllr Bheke Stofile, SALGA Gauteng PEC Chairperson, Cllr Jongisizwe Dlabathi, economists, policy and trade experts, local government representatives, among others.

Presenting on the progress on the AfCFTA negotiations and implications for Local Government, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), Chief Director Niki Kruger says: “According to the World Bank, the AfCFTA will boost regional income by 7% or $450 billion, speed up wage growth for women, and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035”.

“While some of the benefits of the AfCFTA would be derived from reduced tariffs, the biggest gains are expected from lowering trade costs by reducing non-tariff barriers and improving hard and soft infrastructure at the borders (trade facilitation measures). By 2035, the volume of total exports is expected to increase by $560 billion (29%) with intra-Africa exports increasing by 81% and exports outside of the continent by 19%,” she said.

MEC of Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Development, Parks Tau says the implementation of the AfCFTA treaty will take place at the local government level.

Tau who delivered a keynote address on Tuesday morning at the inaugural dialogue said the AfCFTA initiated by SALGA will align the sphere of local government to the Free Trade Agreement.

“It is logical that municipalities are adequately capacitated and resourced to leverage the attendant opportunities from the Free Trade Agreement. Since this Free Trade Agreement signifies a game-changer, its impact rests in the integration of Africa into a single continental market for trade and exchange of goods and services with an accompanying free movement of entrepreneurs and enterprises,” Tau says.
Tau said the Free Trade Agreement is not the only flagship of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, but it is also a platform to attain a continent-wide inclusive and sustainable development.

“As the Gauteng Provincial Government, the objectives and intended outputs from the Free Trade Agreement certainly find practical expression through the Growing Gauteng Together 2030 (GGT2030) plan of action. This pragmatic provincial blueprint has specific action plans to expand intra-Africa trade, investment and commerce”, Tau said.

Acknowledging the landmark moment that the treaty brought to the African continent SALGA President Cllr Bheke says the AfCTA was the largest trade area in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The agreement will create a single market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments across borders, which will strengthen trade and intra-African investment and cooperation,” Stofile says.

It is estimated that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022. Ultimately, the treaty will lead to the creation of an integrated African market and the realization of the African Union Agenda 2063 towards an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
Secretary-General of the United Cities and Local Government of Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi called for continent’s leaders to understand that every development is local.

“To be efficient in any action pertaining to the integration of the continent is should be departing from the local level. The bulk of jobs and transformation for this continent lies at the end of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The SMEs are the lifeblood of local government. This is why involving local government at the inception phase of the implementation of the AfCFTA is proof that this journey would be successful,” Mbassi says.

The two-day dialogue will continue this Thursday, key on the agenda is innovative infrastructure financing instruments – unlocking infrastructure financing for a successful AfCFTA and this will be panel discussion cross-border trade, investments, networks, and free movement in pursuit of an integrated African market

The anticipated large investments that will be precipitated by the AfCFTA will undoubtedly put the municipal infrastructure to the test.

Moreover, municipalities need to be ahead of the curve with respect to creating an enabling environment for possible inward investments arising from the AfCFTA, particularly as it relates to infrastructure development and the streamlining and simplification of business processes.

Source: Government of South Africa

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