By SA News
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is in the Republic of Niger to participate in the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU).
The President is supported on this working visit by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Neledi Pandor, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.
The summit will mark the entry into force of the Agreement on the Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and will formally launch the operational phase of the African Internal Market.
The summit will also decide on the location and structure of the AfCFTA Secretariat.
At the open session of the summit, President Ramaphosa will, alongside President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda, participate in the launch of the Tariff Concession Portal.
The password-controlled tariff concession portal was created to allow countries ready to extend tariff preferences and/or give concessions to do so in a secure manner.
The summit was preceded by the 35th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on 4 and 5 July 2019 and the AfCFTA Business Forum on 6 July 2019.
Since its adoption, the AfCFTA has been signed by 52 countries, with 24 ratifications, thus ensuring its entry into force after it surpassed the threshold of 22 ratifications by AU Member States.
South Africa deposited its Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA on 10 February 2019.
Currently, South Africa’s primary export destinations on the continent are mainly within the Southern African Development Community, followed by East Africa.
The AfCFTA presents South Africa with an opportunity for expansion to new markets in West and North Africa for the export of value-added goods as well as services.
The AfCFTA aims to make doing business on the continent easier and encourages African countries to trade among each other while addressing issues that stifle intra-African trade such as high transport costs and cumbersome customs, among others.