The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe says strengthening economic cooperation between South Africa and Tunisia will contribute in the regional integration of Africa. Magwanishe was addressing businesspeople and government officials from South Africa and Tunisia at a business seminar that took place in the coastal Tunisian city of Sousse.
The seminar was the last leg of the Outward Trade and Investment Mission to Tunisia that was organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). The mission began in the capital city, Tunis on Monday. The main objective of the mission was to increase investment and trade between South Africa and Tunisia by creating a platform for companies from the two countries to engage and establish mutually beneficial commercial relations.
“It is important that through these kinds of missions we should be able to realise an increase in trade between our countries. The goods and services produced by our respective countries should be directed at improving and strengthening our respective countries. Our success in cooperating will go a long way towards ensuring regional integration of Africa,” said Magwanishe.
He added that the South African Parliament had voted in favour of the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that would add major impetus to Africa’s integration.
“The ratification confirms our support for the creation of an integrated and diversified African market. The primary commodities informing the economic life of counties in Africa should no longer be dependent on the export commodities. Together we must boost the intra-African trade to competitive levels,” added Magwanishe.
The AfCFTA comprises of 55 African countries and will constitute the largest free trade area globally. It will create an integrated market in Africa consisting of over a billion people. It is estimated that the AfCFTA will increase intra-Africa trade from the current 10%-16% to approximately 52% by the year 2022
Magwanishe urged the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Centre in Sousse, which hosted the seminar, to consider partnering with the chamber of commerce in South Africa in order to facilitate closer cooperation and collaboration between businesspeople from Tunisia and South Africa.
“We are delighted about the forthcoming visit to South Africa by businesspeople from the Sousse-based chamber. The visit will create an opportunity for the chambers of the two countries to meet, find each other and develop a programme to advance their course. Trade and investment between SA and Tunisia are disappointingly low and we hope the status quo will change for the better after the two chambers have met and crafted a programme of action that will result in an increased two-way flow of trade and investment between our countries,” concluded Magwanishe.
Source: Department of Trade and Industry