THE secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene, told a media briefing at the 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum in Johannesburg that there should be complementarity between Agoa and AfCFTA.
“What we need to do is ensure that a new Agoa that excludes certain African countries does not lead to fragmentation of the African market,” Mene said.
The AfCFTA is a free trade area currently containing 47 countries.
In response to a question about whether he had received any cancellations of delegates and exhibitors to the third Inter Africa Trade Fair (IATF) that will be hosted in Cairo, Egypt, from November 9 to 15, he said he was not aware of any cancellations and as far as he was concerned the Egyptian government had provided security assurances so that the IATF would go ahead despite the conflict between Gaza and Israel.
On the progress of making inter-Africa trade easier, he said there were pockets of progress when it came to implementing One Stop Border Posts (OSBP).
“If we look at trade in the East African Community, for example, before the introduction of an OSBP it took 15 days and 28 steps to get goods from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda along a 1 600-kilometre route.
“The distance has not changed, but now it only takes three days and it is a one-stop process,” he said.
He said that example should encourage other African countries to integrate their customs procedures so that, by the use of digital technology, traders would benefit from a seamless procedure.
Mene noted that this year’s Agoa Forum marked the first forum during which the majority of AfCFTA signatories had been ratified and part of the discussion at the forum was how to harmonise rules of origin between the US and AfCFTA.