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SA commits to establishing free trade area in Africa

Forty-four AU member states signed the free trade agreement, 43 signed the Kigali Declaration and only 27 out of the 55 committed to the Protocol on the Free Movement of People.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signs the Kigali Declaration in Kigali on 21 March 2018. Picture: Twitter/@GovernmentZA

KIGALI - South Africa has committed itself to the establishment of a free trade area in Africa, but it has held off on signing the actual agreement until the relevant laws and regulations are in place.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described Wednesday's summit on this in Kigali on this as a “historic moment”.

Ramaphosa was greeted by a slightly warmer applause than the other heads of state as he stepped up to the desk in front to sign the Kigali Declaration.

Ramaphosa was the newest head of state to attend the extraordinary summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area.

He said although South Africa welcomed the “historic moment which was dreamt of by the founding fathers of the African Union (AU)”, South Africa needed a little more time before it could commit.

“All that holds us back from signing the actual agreement is our own consultation processes.

“We still need to consult at home, to consult in Cabinet, to consult our various partners at Nedlac, but also to finally consult with our parliamentarians, so we are really just going through what you would call the ‘clean-up process’. Everybody’s onboard at home, so as far as we are concerned, we are part of this.”

Forty-four AU member states signed the free trade agreement, 43 signed the Kigali Declaration and only 27 out of the 55 committed to the Protocol on the Free Movement of People.