Africa is well on its way to creating the world’s largest single-free trade area, with 1.3 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion.
South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile told delegates attending the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum that the continent was well on its way moving towards a single African market as all 54 countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The 9th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Parliamentary Forum is taking place at the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg this week.
Mashatile officially opened the Forum and addressed parliamentarians from the BRICS nations, including Egypt, Iran and United Arab Emirates.
Mashatile said the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will improve intra-African trade, the continent’s share and participation in global trade, stimulate and improve the economy, as well as contribute to lifting millions of people out of poverty.
“The continent’s transport networks are largely unsatisfactory. Few roads connect the continent’s five regions, and those that do are often in poor condition and under-maintained.
“As a continent, we look forward to engaging with our BRICS partners to realise the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area and thus create a win-win solution for all,” he said.
Mashatile encouraged the BRICS parliamentarians to seize the opportunity to strengthen the BRICS-Africa partnership and “promote a rules-based approach towards a just global order”.