Letter: South Africa will take a heavy toll on AfCFTA
Business Day | 22nd November 2022
By Keith Gottschalk
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement risks being unworkable if all members follow Sanral’s example.
Carien du Plessis hit the nail on the head regarding the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (“Free trade pact alone won’t industrialise Africa”, November 20). It takes a decade, on average, to witness the substantive implementation of any treaty by a majority of AU members, and implementing AfCFTA within this decade will require vigorous lobbying by the department of international relations & co-operation.
Policy incoherence in this regard is unhelpful. For example, AfCFTA is meant to culminate in free trade from Cape Town to Cairo. A lorry ought to be able to freely trade goods along that route. But what happens in reality? While the department negotiates those treaties, the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) imposes a toll at the Huguenot tunnel merely an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
When the lorry transits through Gauteng, Sanral imposes a second toll. If the remaining seven countries between Cape Town and Cairo follow the Sanral example the lorry driver would have to pay 14 tolls, rendering all transcontinental trade unprofitable.
In choosing modes of taxation and other policies, SA and other countries must keep as paramount the ideal and reality of continental trade.