Johannesburg – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday that African countries need to co-operate to enhance economic growth and increase trade.
“Deeper regional integration is an imperative we all need to accept,” he told delegates at the World Customs Organisation council meeting for east and southern Africa.
“The integration will increase job creation, facilitate cross border trade, diversify economies and encourage greater competitiveness.”
Regional integration would also ensure co-ordination in movement of goods by customs, he said.
Leaders in Africa and the African Union were committed to an infrastructure plan across regions in the continent.
“We face many challenges, such as the fact that many of our economies remain over dependent on commodities and the pace of industrialisation is hampered by poor infrastructure,” he said.
It was unacceptable that the continent’s financial future was continuously undermined by the illicit flow of financial resources from Africa.
“About $814bn flowed from the continent between 1970 and 2001 and fraudulent trade activities were a mechanism to this illicit activity.
“Just ask yourselves what Africa could do with such amounts of money,” Gordhan said.
The African continent and especially the Sub-Saharan region was rising as an investment hub.
South Africa’s investment in other countries on the continent between 2002 and 2012 grew from R5.5bn to R24b, Gordhan said.
The WCO has 179 member states.
Three-quarters of which are developing countries and are responsible for managing more than 98 percent of world trade.
The member states are divided into six regions across the world.