23 October 2018
Issued by; The Congress Of The People – Parliament
Delivered by Chief Whip of COPE, Deidre Carter
Speaker, this new trade agreement which seeks to establish and strengthen African continental unity, regional integration, and stronger economic ties through the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is welcomed in principle by the Congress of the People.
An African-wide Continental Free Trade Area could turn Africa into the biggest single market since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.
We agree with the view of the Institute For Security Studies that the agreement holds enormous potential for the continent’s social and economic development, its ability to the deal with structural causes of conflict, and to harness Africa’s demographic dividend – its growing and youthful population.
Africa’s bargaining power lies ultimately in its unity, which will allow it to define how it wants to trade others beyond and within the Continent.
But as the South African Institute for International Affairs points out, the real test will be whether our Continent’s leaders will be able to give effect to the agreement and successfully implement the envisaged free trade area – given that a lack of intra-Continental unity, political will, technical expertise and financial constraints have historically plagued most of our continental and regional efforts towards deeper intra-African trade to date.
COPE supports the approval of this trade agreement subject to the observations made.