South Africa has welcomed the tripartite agreement signed in Egypt seeking to integrate about 12 of the largest economies in the region.
The tripartite agreement will see the continental GDP rising and cutting down on unemployment.
South Africa, the continent’s second largest economy exports about 18 per cent of its total exports to this region and the tripartite agreement is set to raise the volume of exports.
“The Free Trade Area agreement is very important for the African continent region as the tripartite involves 12 largest economies as a combined region,” South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies told CNBC Africa adding the move was long overdue.
“The agreement will allow industrial development and economic diversification so [within this context] it is an important step going forward.”
The agreement will see the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and Southern Africa Development Community (COMESA-EAC–SADC) integrating their markets and lifting tariffs on about 80 per cent of goods.
Tripartite countries account for half of the membership of the African Union with a Gross Domestic Product of 1.3 trillion US dollars and also with just above half a billion.
The agreement is a culmination of a period five years of negotiations. The agreement will see the harmonisation of a common market from Cairo to Cape Town.
“We have the real opportunity to develop the value chains, industrialise our countries,” added Davies.