Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

As executive director of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) Johannesburg, I welcome SA’s signing of the agreement establishing a tripartite free-trade area (TFTA) among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community and East African Community.

The TFTA will make an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 625-million and total GDP of $1.6-trillion.

These milestones will provide many economic benefits for SA and increase the interest of Japanese companies to expand their business and further contribute to the development of SA.

These new trade deals are great steps towards a continental free-trade area that will create greater economies and regional value chains over the African region.

The signing of the TFTA agreement has come at a perfect time as intra-Africa trade volume is low. According to 2015 UN Conference on Trade and Development statistics, exports within Africa amount to just 17.7% of its exports to the global market, and imports within Africa make up 13.6% of its imports from the global market. Compare this to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where internal trade is about 23%-25% of its trade with the global market.

Understandably, Africa cannot create a single market overnight, but integrating each regional economic community is a step in the right direction.

Hiroyuki NemotoExecutive director, Jetro Johannesburg

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