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President Cyril Ramaphosa hails African Continental free trade area

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the historic adoption by the African Union of an Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a new beginning for the continent that will catapult African countries and companies to much higher levels of growth.

President Ramaphosa has undertaken that South Africa will become a signatory to the agreement once the legal and other instruments associated with AfCFTA are processed and ratified by South African stakeholders and Parliament. The agreement was adopted today, Wednesday 21 March 2018, by the 10th Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

As a demonstration of South Africa’s unequivocal commitment to this continental venture, President Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration for the Launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area during today’s plenary session of the Summit.

“This is an opportunity that is going to yield great benefits for all countries on the continent as well as big business, small companies and micro-traders,” President Ramaphosa said at the conclusion of his Working Visit to the Republic of Rwanda.

In remarks prepared for delivery to the Summit, in his capacity as the Chair of the South African Development Community, President Ramaphosa said the trade-focused Kigali Summit was a “forward step in the arduous journey to translate the African Continental Free Trade Area legal instrument into an effective conduit for increased trade and investment across the African continent”.

He urged that the African Continental Free Trade Area should provide new and meaningful trade and investment opportunities across the African continent.

"Africa’s vulnerabilities and limited participation in global trade are indicative of its traditional reliance on the export of raw commodities and the import of value-added products," President Ramaphosa said.

Yesterday, Tuesday 20 March 2018, President Ramaphosa paid a courtesy call and had a working lunch with host President Paul Kagame. The Presidents held discussions on strengthening bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation on continental and global questions. Also yesterday, President Ramaphosa served as chair of an AfCFTA Business Forum on the financing of intra-African trade, before attending a welcome dinner hosted by President Kagame in honour of visiting Heads of State and Government.

President Ramaphosa returns to Pretoria this evening, 21 March 2018

Media enquiries: Khusela Diko on 072 854 5707
Issued by: The Presidency