Ramaphosa to strengthen trade agreements with rest of Africa


President Cyril Ramaphosa has talked of strengthening trade agreements with other African countries following a visit by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari last week. 

In his open letter, "From the desk of the president", Ramaphosa said prosperity on the continent required a strong relationship between South Africa and Nigeria at an economic, trade, social, political, diplomatic and people-to-people level.

"It is expected that over the next few decades there will be a massive increase in investment in infrastructure across Africa, which should benefit South African construction companies, manufacturers and banks. 

"The economies of the African continent are together growing at a rate far greater than our own, and we need to see the opportunity that such growth presents for our economy and for our people. It is for this reason that we have embraced the African Continental Free Trade Area."

This, he said, would be a game changer, with South Africa well-placed to make use of the opportunities a free trade area could provide.

South Africa was plagued by a series of violent protest that led to xenophobic attacks on foreign-owned businesses last month. African leaders spoke out against the attacks with Nigerians taking to the streets in that country threatening to boycott South African companies. 

Ramaphosa met with his Nigerian counterpart shortly after the attacks saying that this challenged their efforts to build stronger ties with other African countries. More than 100 South African companies have investments in Nigeria and about 1 700 have active trade relations in the country, with trade equating to around R50bn last year between the two countries.

"Nigeria and South Africa are important for each other's economies. More than 100 South African companies have investments in Nigeria and over 1 700 have active trade relations in the country. Trade between the two countries was worth around R50bn last year, with South Africa importing a significant amount of its fuel from Nigeria. For its part, South Africa exports a wide range of products to Nigeria, including machinery and appliances, minerals and chemical products."

Ramaphosa said the two countries have formed a joint ministerial advisory council on industry, trade and investment that will meet regularly to facilitate bilateral business and, where necessary, sort out problems.

"While we are undertaking a massive investment drive in South Africa, we are also encouraging investment in other parts of the continent. We do so in pursuit of the shared African vision of Agenda 2063, but also because we know that South Africa cannot prosper unless Africa as a whole prospers."

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