NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 1 – Kenya and South Africa on Thursday intensified their efforts to strengthen the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) framework.
The two nations that share cordial bilateral relations, marked a significant moment by initiating the first shipment of products under the AfCFTA framework across the African continent.
South Africa led the way by sending a shipment containing refrigerators, paperboard, and steel products destined for the Kenyan market.
The launch occurred on the sidelines of the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers Meeting in Durban, with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, presiding over the ceremony.
Rebecca Miano, the Trade Cabinet Secretary in attendance, commended the initiative, highlighting the tremendous opportunity it presents for enhanced trade between the two nations.
“This action serves as a clear indication that South Africa is open for business within the AfCFTA framework,” she said.
Cabinet Secretary Miano emphasized that the consignment from South Africa serves as a genuine testament to the nation’s readiness for strengthened trade ties.
“South Africa has confirmed its readiness to trade under the framework. It is also an indication that South Africa is ready to receive imports from the AfCFTA countries whose tariff offers have been finalized and adopted by the African Union Assembly,” she said.
Kenya embraced the AfCFTA initiative early on, initiating its first shipment of tea and later expanding its exports to various products in 2022.
The AfCFTA, with a collective population of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP exceeding USD 3.5 trillion, stands as a crucial market that both nations are eager to explore and capitalize on for mutual gain.
Despite the relatively modest total trade figures of R9.7 billion between Kenya and South Africa in 2022, with South Africa holding a trade surplus, the implementation of the AfCFTA opens up avenues for substantial growth.
The AfCFTA establishes a framework for both countries to raise awareness among exporters, utilizing their respective national AfCFTA Implementation Strategies to maximize the benefits offered by the agreement.
Trade between Kenya and South Africa spans various sectors, encompassing tea, coffee, fruits, and vegetables from Kenya, while South Africa exports iron and steel, mineral fuels, machinery, wine, cars, fridges, TVs, and agricultural products.
Both nations have committed to facilitating the smooth entry of each other’s products into their markets and addressing non-tariff barriers to enhance intra-African trade.
In the upcoming weeks, Kenya is set to reciprocate South Africa’s initiative by sending its consignment of Kenyan products to the South African market under the AfCFTA framework.
This reciprocal exchange represents a crucial step in fostering economic collaboration and capitalizing on the vast opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.
As South Africa and Kenya take the lead, their proactive involvement under the AfCFTA establishes a positive example for other African nations, underscoring the significance of regional cooperation and trade integration in propelling economic growth across the continent.
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