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Addressing the African Union last month, SA president Jacob Zuma noted that regional trade levels were dependent on addressing infrastructure backlogs. Findings by the World Bank, released in their ‘South African Economic update’ last week reveal the extent of this potential trade.

Sub-Saharan Africa had surpassed Europe as the biggest export destination for nonmineral export from South Africa in the past decade, and for South Africato achieve export growth it had to take advantage of the three opportunities of increased competitiveness, lower trade and input costs, and greater regional integration

World Bank recommendations that South Africa should deepen regional integration and build regional value chainswere broadly aligned to South African government policy and work programmes.

According to Brendan Vickers, chief director of policy and research for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI):“The recommendation related to deepening regional integration in Africa is fully recognised and being addressed in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union and now under the Tripartite Free Trade Area,” he said.

According to Zuma, while intra-African investment had been growing at more than 32% since 2007, a lack of access to trade-enabling infrastructure on the continent remained a fundamental challenge. The president said the commitment to tackling the infrastructure bottleneck was made at the recent African Union Summit held in Ethiopia. “We recommitted ourselves as African heads of state to continue building cross-border infrastructure, to unlock growth and development in our continent,” he said.

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