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South Africa is keen to sign the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has said. “South Africa wants to sign — and will sign — when this agreement is in a state that enables us to sign it,” Davies said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Monday.
The minister’s comments come following last week’s signing by 44 African countries of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda.
The accord, signed by countries such as Niger, Rwanda, Chad and Angola, was penned during the 10th extraordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on the AfCFTA in the Rwandan capital.
South Africa only signed the declaration intending to set up the African trade area but did not sign the actual agreement, saying it held off on signing until legal and other instruments associated with AfCFTA have been processed and ratified by South African stakeholders and Parliament.
Davies told reporters that there were a series of annexes and appendices which have not yet been “legally scrubbed,” adding that his country had no problem with the overall content of the AfCFTA.
“The documents are like a circuit board that is yet to have the transistors in them. They don’t yet have the circuits linked up,” he said, adding that some of the outstanding matters related to tariff schedules.
“South Africa has a relatively high bar before we can sign an international agreement. That high bar requires that we don’t sign things where there’s a reference to some appendix or annex that is not part of the agreement” he added.
According to the minster, the work on the annexes was likely to be done by the end of April, after which the documentation will be looked at by lawyers at the Ministries of International Relations and Cooperation and Justice and Constitutional Development, among others.
The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area created in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, according to the African Union (AU).Source: APA