Twenty-six African countries are rapidly moving towards finalising a preferential trade agreement which will open up significant opportunities for South African exports. The countries being integrated into a tripartite free trade area (TFTA) — seen as a critical driver of regional integration on the continent — have a combined population of 625-million people and a total GDP of $1.6-trillion. Once the tariff negotiations are finalised, the TFTA will offer exporters preferential or zero tariffs into the markets of member countries. Department of Trade and Industry deputy director-general of international trade and economic development Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter notes that this preferential access will provide better terms of trade than are currently enjoyed. "It means that we will be able to increase our exports and advance a developmental integration agenda and the development of regional value chains, as it would be cheaper, for example, for SA to import inputs from African countries." C...

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