Mbabane: Eswatini continues to increases its continental export participation.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was officially launched on January 1, 2020, is giving Eswatini access to 1.3 billion consumers around the African continent.
This is a wealth of opportunity for locally owned SME’s and large corporates. The AfCFTA aims to not only consolidate African trading activity with the rest of the world, but also to ease trade between nations on the continent, creating a single market to encourage trade and economic integration amongst Africans across the continent.
The AfCFTA agreement is also focused on facilitating further intra-African investment while also creating fertile markets to encourage international investors to enter African markets.
In Eswatini the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) is responsible for facilitating trade and investment.
As a facilitator of trade and investment in Eswatini, EIPA’s role in the acceleration of the AfCFTA in Eswatini will be to continue creating links between markets and industries while effectively marketing the country’s potential to those with an interest in the various business avenues the country offers.
During the launch of the AfCFTA, EIPA Chief Executive Officer Sibani Mngomezulu was quoted saying “the opportunities for industrial development and economic stimulation that the agreement will bring EIPA’s mandate is to facilitate trade and investment in Eswatini whether from local or international sources”. He said by welcoming the signing of the AfCFTA agreement by all African member states, we are optimistic about the trade and investment opportunities that will be created through this vehicle. “Eswatini is a country that currently produces a number of high quality, world class goods and services which are fit and ready for export to the continent and international markets”.
Mngomezulu elaborated that this agreement will further boost the reach of these products and services positioning our country as a destination of choice for those interested in advancing economic development within our borders. It will also do a great deal in facilitating export driven growth and increase SME participation in our economy, which is one of the priorities set out in Eswatini’s Strategic Roadmap.
The duty free access to various countries in Africa, thanks to AfCFTA, will greatly complement Eswatini’s geographical positioning which already allows us the benefit of trade agreements under SADC, COMESA and others. Coupled with our good road infrastructure and favourable access to ports and rail networks, we are in a good position to fully utilize the opportunities offered by this agreement.”
AfCFTA seeks to create one of the world’s biggest markets to compete with other localized markets such as China with a domestic market of 1.3 billion consumers, India with a domestic market of 1.4 billion consumers, Europe with a domestic market of 741 million consumers and the United States of America with a domestic market of 330 million consumers. This is a strong attempt by Africa to showcase homegrown products which will be sold within the continent at competitive prices by eliminating trade barriers such as customs duties and other logistical processes that were hindering trade within the continent.