Kenya and South Africa launch first consignment under the continental free trade agreement
Citizen Digital | 1st February 2024
By Benjamin Muriuki
Kenya and South Africa have jointly launched the first consignment under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) framework, signalling commitment to a united African market.
South Africa, taking the lead, dispatched a consignment featuring refrigerators, paperboard, and steel products destined for the Kenyan market, demonstrating a clear readiness for business within the AfCFTA framework.
The launch occurred during the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers Meeting in Durban, where the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, presided over the ceremony.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Investment, Trade, and Industry Rebecca Miano, along with other Ministers and Heads of Delegations at the Council of Ministers meeting, witnessed this significant step towards deeper economic integration.
Kenya’s early adoption of the AfCFTA initiative was underscored by its dispatch of the first consignment, initially consisting of tea and later diversifying its exports in 2022. The AfCFTA, boasting a collective population of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP exceeding USD 3.5 trillion, holds immense potential for both nations eager to explore and exploit mutual economic benefits.
Despite the relatively modest total trade figures of R9.7 billion (Ksh.83 billion) in 2022, with South Africa holding a trade surplus, the AfCFTA implementation opens avenues for substantial growth.
The framework provides a strategic platform for both countries to enhance exporter awareness, leveraging their individual national AfCFTA Implementation Strategies to maximize the advantages offered by the agreement.
Trade ties between Kenya and South Africa span diverse sectors, encompassing Kenyan exports of tea, coffee, fruits, and vegetables, while South Africa reciprocates with exports of iron and steel, mineral fuels, machinery, wine, cars, fridges, TVs, and agricultural products.
Both nations have pledged to facilitate the smooth entry of each other’s products into their markets and address non-tariff barriers, aiming to boost intra-African trade.
In the coming weeks, Kenya is set to reciprocate South Africa’s initiative by dispatching its consignment of diverse Kenyan products to the South African market under the AfCFTA framework.