CAPE TOWN– South Africa remains committed to becoming a signatory to the African Union’s agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), says Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu.

At a meeting of African heads of State and government in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, South Africa held off signing the actual agreement until legal and other instruments associated with AfCFTA are processed and ratified by South African stakeholders and Parliament.

Sisulu in a media briefing ahead of the presentation of her department’s Buget Vote in Parliament here Tuesday, however, announced that South Africa signing the agreement is on the Cabinet’s agenda.

South Africa is fully committed to the AfCFTA and signed the Kigali Declaration launching the AfCFTA, which demonstrates South Africa’s political commitment to sign the Agreement and its Protocols, once it has fulfilled its domestic requirements, including consultations with social partners and ascent by Parliament,” she added.

The agreement, once signed and ratified by the required number of countries to come into force, aims to tackle the non-tariff barriers which hamper trade among African countries, such as long delays at the border.

It is also aimed at deepening African economic integration by promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialization and structural economic transformation through a single continental air transportation market with free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

The envisaged AfCFTA is designed to combine market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s productive capacity to remove supply-side constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value-added products, as well as alleviate the chronic infrastructure deficit on the continent.

The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area (FTA) in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization, with a potential to create an African market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion US dollars.