On Monday this week I joined our Prime Minister and 16 African Heads of State in London at our first UK-Africa Trade and Investment Summit.
In July 2020 the African Continental Free Trade Area will come into being, made up of 54 of the 55 African Union nations. With a population of 1.2 billion, it will create one of the world’s largest single markets for goods and services. Cutting tariffs by 90 percent and harmonizing trading rules at a regional and continental level, the Free Trade Area is expected to boost internal trade by over 50 percent within just two years.
As we become unshackled from the constraints of the EU, now is the time for UK entrepreneurs, particularly some of our Kent businesses, to look at the enormous opportunities becoming available in the sectors of agriculture, infrastructure, logistics, education, health and many others.
My morning at the summit involved chairing panel discussions with leading business figures who already trade successfully in Africa, followed by a Q and A session with the Presidents of Rwanda, Guinea and Malawi. There was optimism from all quarters about improvements in the ease of doing business, breaking down barriers to trade across the continent and combatting corruption with transparency and technology.
Economic growth requires increased energy resources and after lunch I was pleased to moderate another Presidential panel session on clean energy and the mitigation of carbon footprints. Again, these are massive opportunities for UK’s renewable energy companies to share their expertise and expand our trading partnership with Africa for our mutual prosperity.
I will certainly be doing everything in my power to ensure this week’s ground breaking summit was just the start for the UK in turbocharging our trading relationships with the African continent. If you are a Maidstone and The Weald business who is interested in grasping the opportunity, please do get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction.