It is with a sense of significant achievement, great pride and immense hope that the African National Congress welcomes the signing of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) by representatives of our Regional Blocs in Cairo, Egypt. The agreement, signed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), seeks to create a common market from Cape to Cairo. It is effectively the continent’s largest free trade zone unlocking blockages that had previously existed hindering the free movement of goods and investment across the continent. This development is in line with our stated objective of catapulting Africa to take her rightful place as a formidable force amongst regions of the world; ensuring that development and growth come from within the continent itself driven by our combined population of 600 million and combined GDP of approximately a trillion US dollars.
While the integration of these regional economies into one economic block has been the subject of much negotiation, the African National Congress has consistently called for strengthening of Regional Economic Commissions, intended to consolidate Regional Community Integration, knowing these are the building blocks of the African Union and a critical component towards realising Africa Vision 2063. Our economic diplomacy has held that for South Africa to achieve her national development objectives, we must actively promote development and peace on the continent as neither of these imperatives can exist without the other. We call on South African companies doing business in the rest of Africa to ensure that their conduct accords with South African business norms and standards such as upholding good business practice, labour standards, and ethical conduct. It is our hope that the Free Trade Agreement concluded, subject to ratification by Parliaments of member counties, will lead to measures that will see the development of interconnecting transport infrastructure, cooperation on industrial development and the encouragement of ownership, control and utilisation of natural, marine and land resources as well as essential infrastructure to the benefit of the peoples of Africa.
Issued by the African National Congress