By – SAnews.gov.za
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the 25th Anniversary of the African Export-lmport Bank (Afreximbank) serves as an inspiration to what the continent can achieve with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We have many success stories of companies and organisations that are making a great difference in the lives of the people of Africa. Afreximbank is one such story, which serves as an example and an inspiration to many others.
“We are optimistic about Africa’s future because of the momentous developments over the last few months in forging a free trade area across the continent. Agreement on the Continental Free Trade Agreement represents a new dawn for Africa,” said President Ramaphosa.
President Ramaphosa was speaking during the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of Afreximbank in Abuja, Nigeria, where he is on a working visit.
Afreximbank is a financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra and extra–African trade. It was established in October 1993 by African governments, African private and institutional investors, and non-African investors.
The President’s comments come on the back of South Africa signing the AfCFTA agreement 31st Session of the AU Assembly in Mauritania just over a week ago.
The AfCFTA is hailed as a significant step towards the creation of an integrated and diversified market of approximately $3.3 trillion with a population of over 1 billion people.
“In pursuing the CFTA, we seek to combine market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to ensure that we enhance Africa’s productive capacity, address supply-side constraints and alleviate the infrastructure deficit.
“We have to have the means to produce the goods that will be freely traded across the continent and we need to have the roads, railways, ports and air routes that are going to carry these goods,” said President Ramaphosa.
President Ramaphosa said the continent should move with speed to conclude negotiations of the agreement before looking across the seas for partners.
“Under the leadership of President Issoufou, our collective priority should be to conclude Phase I and II of the negotiations of the CFTA, before commencing new preferential trading negotiations with third parties outside of the continent.
“We have set ourselves a deadline of 2020 to conclude the CFTA negotiations and to ensure that the liberalisation of trade in goods is complimented by rules on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights. In this way, we will be able to unlock Africa’s full productive capacity,” he said.