PRETORIA: Once established, the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) will offer "limitless opportunities" to world markets such as Japan, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"During the recent African Union Summit in South Africa in June this year, leaders of the continent launched negotiations on a Continental Free Trade Agreement. Once established, this free trade area will offer a market to countries such as Japan of nearly limitless opportunities," said Deputy President Ramaphosa on Monday. He was speaking at the African Union Parliamentary Association dinner hosted in his honour during a visit to Japan.
The AU has set 2017 as the time for the implementation of CFTA, under which African states are expected to reduce trade barriers among themselves by drastically reducing export and import duties and waiving visa requirements in some cases. Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) covers more than 650 million people in 26 countries with combined gross domestic product amounting to 60 percent of Africa's total. TFTA will become effective once parliament has adopted it.
Ramaphosa said regional and continental integration is the foundation for Africa's socio-economic development and political unity, and essential also for South Africa's prosperity and security. "Consequently, Africa is at the centre of South Africa's foreign policy. South Africa cannot succeed alone, but only as part of a broader African success story, even though we would like to see ourselves as the gateway to doing business in Africa."
He added that South Africa's vision was to realise a prosperous and a stable Africa without conflict and poverty. In this light, he said South Africa's destiny was inextricably linked to that of the rest of the continent‚ a potential market of over one billion people.
"It is our hope and conviction that Japan, as an important member of the world community of nations, sees itself as our partner in the practical promotion of the vision of Africa's resurgence and development," he said, hoping that Japan will continue to place itself among the front ranks of those who are driven to act not only within the context of a narrowly defined national interest, but with broader generosity of spirit.