Minister Davies says regional integration is the way to go
7 Apr 2011
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has re-emphasised the importance of regional integration. He was addressing a seminar at the University of Western Cape that was organised by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Davies said that the Tripartite Council and summit that South Africa will host in June this year, will boost the regional integration as it will pave the path for the establishment of a Trilateral Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) between the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
He added that the economic potential for the TFTA is considerable, as it combines a market of 26 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 624 billion and a population of approximately 700 million people. A larger, integrated, and growing regional market would enhance the interest of foreign investment and provide a basis for enhanced intra-African trade.
”In the context of markedly improved growth prospects for Africa alongside intensifying global competition for Africa’s resources and markets, the need to enhance access to African markets is more urgent. The TFTA is an important initiative in accelerating regional integration efforts aimed at ensuring that African countries trade with each other on terms at least as favourable as other competitors. Last but not least, a larger, integrated and growing TFTA would circumvent the difficult decision of having to ‘choose’ between the different regional projects,” said Davies.
Davies added that the guiding principles of a Trilateral Free Trade Agreement could include amongst others flexibility to protect sensitive sectors, consolidate existing tariff liberalisation under the Regional Economic Communities, and conditions of entry other than merely tariffs have to be properly assessed.
He also reiterated the country’s commitment to a trade strategy that is development focused and that benefits developing and least developed countries.
“SA’s economic development strategy aims to accelerate growth and industrial development along a path that generates decent jobs. Trade policy must support industrial development and upgrading, employment growth and increased value-added exports. We adopt a developmental approach to tariff reform in support of these objectives. Our trade strategy/international engagement must also support these national objectives” added Davies.
The purpose of the seminar was to build a network of partnerships with universities, enterprises, labour, communities and government that would allow for greater movement of professionals between these spheres. It also aims to establish standards of rigour and debate that would enhance professionalism and analytical wisdom in our society.
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Source: Department of Trade and Industry
Issued by: Department of Trade and Industry
7 Apr 2011
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