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Automotive focus on Africa’s Free Trade Area 

2021-06-16  Staff Reporter

Automotive focus on Africa’s Free Trade Area 
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Staff Reporter

The African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat are hosting a webinar on Thursday, 17 June, to explore how the AfCFTA is helping to shape the automotive policies for Africa, which, in turn, drives industrialisation. 

Also to be discussed during the free virtual event, which will run from 16h00 to 17h00 (CAT), is why the rules of origin are key in driving investment and confidence in Africa.

“We believe that all automotive industry role players, including policy advisors, business leaders and potential investors will gain great insight from the event as we unpack various aspects of the potential of the African market and the opportunities it provides. We applaud the African Union for launching the AfCFTA on 1 January this year. This is the largest free trade bloc in terms of participating countries and will provide the scale that is required for a globally competitive African automotive sector,” said David Coffey, the CEO of AAAM. 

“The political will is required to put significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures in place to realise the benefit of the AfCFTA,” Coffey added. The Pan African Auto Pact Vision and how this can fast track the development of the automotive sector in the context of the AfCFTA will be examined during the event. 

This will include insight into activities taking place on the continent to industrialise and grow the automotive sector and why a pact can be a short-term reality. Of particular interest will be a discussion on the fast tracking of the conclusion of the automotive rules of origin. 

In simplistic terms, the rules of origin are a passport that ultimately enables goods to circulate – free of duty – within a free trade area (FTA), such as the AfCFTA, as long as these goods qualify as originating within the FTA. The rules define the criteria that must be met for a product to be considered as having its origin within the FTA.

In 2019, intra-African trade was a mere 15%, compared to around 47% in America, 61% in Asia and 67% in Europe, but that could change radically now that the AfCFTA is up and running. Once the agreement is fully implemented and the rules of origin finalised, the gross domestic product of most African countries could increase by 1% to 3% once all tariffs are eliminated.

“The finalisation of the AfCFTA agreement and the rules of origin with respect to automotive are vital to the realisation of the AAAM’s vision of building a successful automotive ecosystem that will lead to a sustainable industry of scale that creates significant jobs while assisting in the industrialisation of the automotive sector in Africa,” explained Mike Whitfield, president of the AAAM and managing director of Nissan Africa and one of the confirmed speakers for the webinar.

Whitfield and Coffey will be joined by a panel of experts that include Wamkele Mene (secretary general, AfCFTA Secretariat), Benedict Oramah (president Afreximbank), Markus Thill (vice president of the AAAM and president – Region Africa of Robert Bosch) and Alec Erwin (AAAM policy expert).

2021-06-16  Staff Reporter

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