President Cyril Ramaphosa has told world leaders that Africa is the "new frontier of economic growth and development", as he seeks to boost inbound investment to kick-start SA's sluggish GDP growth rate.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the G7 and Africa Partnership taking place in Biarritz, France. SA was invited to attend the conference by President Emmanuel Macron of France.
In an address Ramaphosa said that the adoption by 55 countries of the the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement was a "important milestone".
"This free trade area is now the largest on the globe, bringing together 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $3trn," he said.
Ramaphosa said that by creating a single continental market for goods and services, the trade area would "unleash Africa’s economic potential and consolidate its position as a new frontier of economic growth and development".
Ramaphosa previously said he would use the summit as a platform to "invite global partners to experience South Africa as an investment destination and trade partner, and to participate in the country's efforts to secure faster, sustainable and inclusive economic growth and reduce unemployment".
South Africa has been experiencing low GDP growth rates for most of the past decade. In the first quarter of 2019, the economy contracted by an annualised 3.2%, the largest quarter-on-quarter drop in a decade. While the National Development plan calls for sustained economic growth of 5% to make decrease inequality, the SA Reserve Bank and international agencies now project growth rate of between 0.6% and 0.7% for the year.
Stats SA is set to announce SA's GDP growth figures for the second quarter next week. If these are again negative, SA will enter its second recession in two years.