The World Economic Forum for Africa conclusively urged the African continent to remove trade barriers and non trade barriers in a bid to foster economic development within the region.
The call comes at a time when the region is enjoying six percent of economic growth which South African presidential aspirant, Tokyo Sexwale, dismissed as “distorted”.
“Africa is certainly enjoying some economic growth but when you look closely at the figures of all the 51 countries, you will see that some of the countries have scored better than others.
“Look at Angola, it enjoyed an economic growth of 17.8 percent against negative four in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The statement comes at a time when the presidential aspirant is urging the continent to move towards tariff reduction to bolster intra-nation trade. However, Sexwale was cautious saying that the move needs to be thoroughly studied.
Minister Baledzi Gaolathe said he was optimistic that the tariffs would come down across the region by next year.
“The SADC region has agreed to harmonise the tariffs and non-tariffs in the next year,” he said, adding that some of the countries had already done that.
“We are hoping to have a non tariff area by next year that will mean that goods will be able to move across the region without being charged tariffs,” he said.
The forum was attended by 1,300 participants from across Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States of America.
“We have five SACU countries which have offered tariff reduction and we’ll be meeting this weekend to review the whole situation, among other things,” he said.
The move comes after a barrage of attacks directed at the SADC which is largely seen as too slow with the continent despite the fact that it is already in advanced talks with the European Union.
According to the brief of the talks, the aim is to reduce tariffs and have a much better market access of African goods into the EU region. That is in line with what Senegal’s President, Abdoulaye Wade, envisages.