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2023-10-09 9:51 AM

AfCFTA Workshop Unlocks Trade Potential for Sectors

By Miriam Matoma

The South African chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and pharmaceutical sectors are gearing up to unlock the immense potential offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). A virtual workshop on AfCFTA’s implementation, organized by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), is set to enlighten these sectors about the opportunities lying ahead. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, 11 October 2023.

The dtic has been actively involved in raising awareness about AfCFTA by conducting provincial workshops that fostered information exchange with the private sector. These workshops served as a platform to elucidate the advantages available under the agreement. Furthermore, they aided in identifying South African companies in key sectors, including the targeted sector masterplans and other priority sectors, with the potential to expand their reach into the African continent.

Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina, underlines the significance of the forthcoming workshop. She asserts that it offers a critical avenue for the department to furnish updates on the progress in developing the National Implementation Plan of AfCFTA, including the establishment of the National Implementation Committee.

“The department will update the sectors on the role expected of them in the implementation of the AfCFTA and essentially obtain challenges that the sectors may be facing in accessing the market in the continent. Obtaining this intelligence will assist the department to unlock the bottlenecks that the sectors may be facing,” Gina said.

The primary objective of this workshop is to engage the chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as industry agencies, associations, and export councils, along with their members, on the advantages of participating in trade under AfCFTA.

Gina stresses that the workshop also aims to foster communication and engagement with the private sector, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and women and youth-owned export-ready businesses. This will provide them with insights into the current status of AfCFTA implementation and the potential opportunities for South African companies to partake in preferential trade beyond the Southern African region.

“I am making a call to all these sectors to take advantage of the opportunities that the agreement is expected to unlock for companies,” Gina emphasized. “This agreement intends to create a large single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately USD3.4 trillion, and we cannot lose out on it.”

She further elucidated the critical role that the chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and pharmaceutical sectors play in the South African economy. These sectors are intertwined with the manufacturing sector, which is a significant contributor to employment generation. Gina highlighted that South Africa is the largest market for cosmetics and personal care products in Africa, with the sector recording nearly US$3.2 billion in revenue in 2018. Despite the growth in imports of cosmetics over the past decade, there are substantial opportunities for local production.

Gina emphasizes the importance of supporting these sectors to produce locally and expand their exports to other markets, particularly within the African continent. This strategic approach can reduce import dependency and stimulate job creation, addressing vital economic challenges.

In conclusion, the virtual workshop on AfCFTA’s implementation, to be hosted by the dtic, marks a significant step towards realizing the untapped potential of the South African chemicals, cosmetics, plastics, and pharmaceutical sectors. With a focus on knowledge-sharing, engagement, and unlocking opportunities, this event sets the stage for these sectors to thrive in the dynamic landscape of African trade and commerce.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam