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MBABANE – A market with over one billion consumers is in need of more suppliers and products in the long term.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market platform has provided more market opportunities, which are now available in addition to the SACU and COMESA markets. Traders can access these markets through EIPA, which is in charge of the investment opportunities in the country. AfCFTA has proven to be an enabling platform for development, especially in the area of trade and business growth. This was according to the Head of Trade of the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA), Bongani Ntshangase. EIPA released a statement commemorating Africa Day as well as EIPA’s role in facilitating trade and investment in Eswatini and playing a central role in the facilitation of the AfCFTA.

Ntshangase said, “Intra-African trade is a very important element that is not to be ignored, especially when looking at trade between Eswatini, Africa, and the rest of the world. Africa has emerged as an attractive market for export-oriented companies and manufacturers across the world, as demand for consumer and capital goods in Africa has been growing at a steady pace in the last few years.” According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Africa imported about 80 per cent of its food from outside the continent, amounting to US$35 billion and expected to reach US$110 billion by 2025.

Ntshangase added that the top products that Africa was importing from the rest of the world were automotives, computers, IT products, clothing and fashion accessories, pharmaceuticals, machinery and engineering products, and chemicals. “These products are in high demand in Africa for a number of reasons, including the high levels of economic growth and urbanisation within African society,” he added. South Africa is one of Eswatini’s biggest trade partners, with E22 billion of our local goods being sent to them every year. Ntshangase mentioned that although Eswatini also subscribes to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the AfCFTA has opened up new and exciting opportunities for enhanced trade with our existing trade partners, as well as new opportunities in West, North, and Central Africa. He said currently, Eswatini exports to these regions chemicals, sugar, pulp and wood products, textiles, and processed food.

EIPA is of the view that, due to the work of entities like EIPA and COMESA, the country has been put in a good position to fully utilise AfCFTA opportunities. They said with the introduction of retail platforms such as BuyEswatini.com, which was launched last year, Eswatini’s trading potential is marketed with ease.“This puts the country in a prime position to successfully market its goods to the rest of the world. According to the statement, BuyEswatini will continue to operate as a permanent virtual catalogue of goods and services offered by traders from all over Eswatini.” “AfCFTA seeks to create one of the biggest markets to compete with other localised markets such as China with a domestic market of 1.3 billion consumers, India with a domestic market of 1.4 billion consumers, Europe with a domestic market of 741 million consumers, and the United States of America with a domestic market of 330 million consumers,” added Ntshangase.

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