A trade expert has called on African countries to expedite and conclude modalities on negotiations for the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) Executive Director Trudi Hartzeberg says the ratification of the AfCFTA is paramount in boosting trade and regional integration among African countries.
Ms.Hartzeberg expressed concern that intra African exports account for only 17 percent of the total Africa exports, adding that the situation has limited the capacity to grow their trade volumes within the continent.
Ms Hartzeberg said this in an interview with ZANIS in Capetown today on the sidelines of a two day media training workshop on trade and integration reporting.
She noted that currently, countries on the African continent work in segmentation by belonging to different regional trade blocks and custom unions without harmonizing their trading system.
“We just have so many trade blocks and custom union with different trade tariffs, and some of these tariffs are high in countries that do not belong to one economic community,” she explained.
She stated that the situation has also resulted in many trade barriers as each block and custom union has its on tariffs and rules according to country of origin.
The TRALAC Executive Director added that this is why it is important for African countries to work towards harmonising and addressing all barriers that affect the smooth facilitation of trade among countries by ratifying the AfCFTA agreement.
Ms.Hartzeberg cited delays at border points, different tariffs on goods such as import duty as some of the challengers that affect intra trade in Africa.
She explained that addressing these challengers will go a long way in improving border standards therefore making the continent attractive and competitive to the world market, adding that this will enhance investment potential.
And TRALAC Associate Gerhard Erasmus stressed that they was a desperate need for intra African trade, by advancing the procedures used, to boost trade among countries.
Professor Erasmus pointed out that good trade governance is key in increasing trade volumes in intra trade.
“Intra trade is an important route to creating employment and advancing development but it is not easy to achieve this as there is need to not only reduce tariffs but also do alot of trade facilitation, improved customs procedure among others,” he said.
He added that better transport and transparent laws must be a comprehensive procedure for better trade governance.
AfCFTA is an integration initiatives aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services in Africa, with free movement of business persons and investments.