The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union — Africa’s own development vision. It was approved by the 18th ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012 which adopted the decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area. This initiative whose immediate implementation would provide quick wins, impact on socioeconomic development and enhance confidence and the commitment of Africans as the owners and drivers of Agenda 2063.

The AfCFTA aims at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations As of December, 3rd 2020, 36 countries have ratified the AfCFTA agreement. Trading began on 1st January 2021.

55 members will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than        US$3.4 trillion.  The AFCFTA is anticipated to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

Objectives of the AFCFTA

The general objectives of the AfCFTA are to:

According to the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the AFCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3%. This will be made possible by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade, should non-tariff barriers be reduced.

GGDA’s role is to:

The role played by GGDA is key in enhancing regional value chains, growing intra-Africa trade and ultimately increasing trade activities in Gauteng Province.

The Department of Trade, Industry, and  Competition (the DTIC) in partnership with Gauteng Growth Development Agency (GGDA), and Constitution Hill hosted Gauteng businesses intending to enter the export industry. The weeklong training took place in February 2021 at Constitution Hill where attendees were introduced to the Global Exporter Passport Programme (GEPP). The GEPP is run by the Department of Trade and industry (the DTIC) to provide training to small, medium, and large enterprises that wish to expand their market reach outside of our borders. The programme is a key component of the National Exporter Development Programme (NEDP), which is a pillar of the Integrated National Export Strategy (INES). It aims to prepare companies to be export-ready and sustainable in export markets.

The training involves frequent export-readiness assessments of participants to ensure the provision of appropriate interventions. The actual training is done in four phases, which include both formal and informal workshops. At the end of the intensive training, SMMEs were able to understand the export cycle, processes, and logistics;  develop an export marketing plan; understand specific export markets that they would like to participate in and understand the current issues in the export industry and how to navigate them. One of the companies who received training stated that “the training exceeded their expectations and helped broaden their knowledge where export requirement and regulations are concerned.” They also appreciated the fact that the training included some marketing traits that they can adopt in the export strategies.

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