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At the 2019 Trade Development Forum leading analysts, economists and other stakeholders debated both the AfCFTA and overall African economic development in a two-day Trade Development Forum running alongside SAITEX Africa at Africa Trade Week, where pan-Africa’s trade and services sectors convened for debate and business development.


The Trade Development Forum assessed how new AfCFTA entities will interact with existing trade regimes, with panels featuring the likes of Komi Tsowou, Economist at the United Nations, Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Wamkele Mene, Chief Negotiator for the AfCTA at the Department of Trade & Industry and Daniel Ngwepe, Senior Director for Government Relations in Sub- Saharan Africa at Visa.


The Trade Development Forum is a conference introduced to SAITEX to meet the needs of the visiting government officials, diplomats, importers, retail and wholesale business leaders.


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*Conference programme subject to change


New format for 2019!

As our hospitality, food and trade development trade shows are co-located we are pleased to introduce our new format for this year which includes two joint plenary discussions focused on investment in Africa and the 4thindustrial revolution taking place on 24th of June 2019 from 10:15 to 11:20. Please note that the focused conference streams will start at 11:50.

10:15 – 10:35

Joint Plenary Opening AddressWhere to invest in Africa 

10:35 – 11:20

Joint Panel discussion – Investment and business leadership in the 4th industrial revolution

All industries are experiencing rapid change, disrupted by advancing technologies and shifting consumer expectations. To adapt to constant technological changes, businesses are adopting an ‘agility first’ strategy to future proof their business, but what does this really mean for business? This discussion explores how business leaders are navigating a rapidly changing technological and political landscape?


11:20 – 11:50

VIP tour of exhibition and morning refreshments


11:50 – 12:20

Keynote: Trade and investment forecast

Inter-African trade remains far below potential. The continent’s overall trade structure, with raw materials being exported and finished goods being imported, has weighed on Africa’s economic development and has increased the continent’s susceptibility to external shocks. In addition, while foreign investment remains a key driver behind economic growth on the continent, there is still considerable scope to improve Africa’s investment attractiveness. That being said, some countries have made substantial progress in leveraging foreign investor interest. This session will look at current trade and investment patterns across the continent with the aim of identifying areas where there is significant scope for expansion. It will also take a more granular look at the African cities landscape, showing where the current trade and investment hotspots are and where we can expect future hotspots to emerge.


12:20 – 13:00

Slobalisation – Is this a new era for globalisation? 

The steam has gone out of globalisation. A new pattern of world commerce is becoming clearer, as are its costs. Globalisation has slowed from light speed to a snail’s pace in the past decade for several reasons. The cost of moving goods has stopped falling. Multinational firms have found that global sprawl burns money and that local rivals often eat them alive. Activity is shifting towards services, which is harder to sell across borders: scissors can be exported in 20ft-containers, hair stylists cannot. And Chinese manufacturing has become more self-reliant, so needs to import fewer parts.

This session will look at what industry leaders should look for if they want to thrive in the changing global economy?


13:00 – 14:00

Networking Luncheon


14:00 – 15:30

Dialogue: Achieving a single market for Africa

The AfCFTA is an ambitious projectdescribed as the flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Designed to boost regional economic growth and development via integration by creating ‘One Africa Market’ to boost intra-Africa trade.  

Although called the Continental Free Trade Area, it is more than a trade in goods agreement. It will also cover trade in services, facilitation of investment, intellectual property rights, and competition policy, which lists several general objectives, which can be achieved incrementally. These include the achievement of a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons; facilitation of investments; laying the foundation for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union. If not properly implemented, the benefits that the private sector gains may be limited. 

This session will discuss how the Implementation will require clarity and certainty about the powers of the entities to be established, and how they will interact with existing trade regimes. 

MODERATOR: Catherine Grant Makokera, Director, Tutwa Consulting Group


15:30 – 15:45

Afternoon refreshments


15:45 – 16:30

Policy uncertainty regarding international trade – What does the future hold

The prospects for a global trade war and higher global interest rates, will create headwinds for the South African economy in general and its currency in particularThe climate of policy uncertainty has been buffeted by a cross-current of positive and negative factors in the past year. Local elections and internationally with Brexit came great policy uncertainty. What will be the impact of Brexit on the SA economy? Analysing policy uncertainty provides South African decision-makers guidance to better understand and manage the effects of policy uncertainty on the economy. This session will discuss policy uncertainty and its analyses, which is in line with a global trend that has already taken off in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, India and China. 


16:30 – 17:00

Closing remarks with day one moderators

Join us for a summary of today’s key insights and next steps needed to drive intra African trade forward


Networking reception





10:15 – 11:00

Growing trade via technology: Is Africa navigating towards the next frontier?

Rapid technological change and digitalization – has already had a profound impact on global trade, economic growth and social progress. Cross-border e-commerce has generated trillions of dollars in economic activity in recent years and continues to accelerate. The ability of data to move across borders underpins new business models, boosting global GDP by 10% in the last decade alone. It has enabled the use of blockchain technology for good, such as increasing efficiency and transparency in international trade. 

This session will look at digital trade barriers including outdated regulations, fragmented governance and strict data localization policies. And how policy-makers must balance societal concerns in the digital commercial space while stakeholders need to navigate divergent national responses.


11:00 – 11:30

Combatting illicit trade

Illicit trade is a global concern and is endemic across many regions, including Africa. Sectors impacted include OTC pharmaceuticals, alcohol, fuel, and tobacco amongst others. Consensus amongst global stakeholders is that the size is growing which facilitates growth of money laundering and corruption. Governments lose millions in lost revenue. The size and shape these illicit types vary globally. Combatting illicit trade is difficult as regulations and enforcement varies across countries. This session will look to highlight the current trends and suggest recommendations to reduce illicit trade.

11:30 – 12:15

Debate: Will China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) benefit Africa? 

The BRI development strategy adopted by China involves infrastructure development and investments. China is spending approximately $150bn a year in the 68 countries that have signed up to the scheme. 

China calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. Some observers see it as a push for Chinese dominance in global affairs with a China-centred trading network.  Behind this broad strategic imperative lie a surplus of secondary motivations—and it is the number and variety of these that prompts scepticism about the coherence and practicality of the project. 

This session will discuss Africa’s role and potential dilemma in the BRI. 


12:15 – 13:15

Networking luncheon


13:15 – 14:00

Financing Trade in Africa – How have lending models evolved in Africa? 

African countries vary in size, geography and resources, so trade deals affect each differently. 

Manufacturing tends to cluster in powerhouses such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa and it remains difficult to convince countries to make sacrifices in order to increase trade. An abundance of borders has long divided the continent’s 54 countries and limit economies of scale.

Common problems such as a shortage of infrastructure pose a challenge to achieving deeper regional integration. Average transport costs in Africa are twice the world average and are thought to harm trade on the continent more than tariffs and other barriers. Regional economic deals are often poorly implemented.

An African firm selling goods on the continent still faces an average tariff rate of 8.7%, compared with 2.5% globally, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). That is one reason why intra-African trade as a percentage of total African trade is well below what is seen in other poor regions. 

This session will explore evolving trade funding schemes and national schemes that are available. 


14:00 – 14:45

Are SEZs the answers to Africa’s development?

When the 1st modern free-trade zone was established at Shannon airport in 1959, few outside Ireland paid much attention. Now everyone seems to be an admirer of “special economic zones” (SEZs) that offer a combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures and less regulation. 3 out of 4 countries have at least 1. The world now counts about 4,300 SEZs, and more are being added all the time.

Myanmar and Qatar have recently unveiled new ones; Indian officials call their SEZ ambitions “revolutionary”; Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, announced special strategic zones as part of his reform agenda.

Fans of SEZs can point to several success stories, none bigger than China’s zone near Hong Kong, set up in 1980 and since dubbed “the Miracle of Shenzhen”. This was a way to experiment with economic reforms that Chinese leaders were fearful of rolling out nationwide in 1 go. Shenzhen attracted thousands of foreign investors, and the policies tested there have spread to other cities.

But the craze for SEZs suggests that governments too often see them as an easy win: make an announcement, set aside some land, offer tax breaks, and—hey presto!—deprived regions or struggling industries are healed. If only it were that easy.

Popular as they are, SEZs are often flops. Africa is littered with white elephants. India has hundreds that failed to get going. This session will a deeper look into the role and purpose of SEZs in developing trade and investment in Africa


14:45 – 15:30

Role of Trade and Investment Promotion Agencies and the Utilization of Incentives to drive Investment and Trade Promotion

The utilisation of Trade and Investment Promotion Agencies internationally has contributed significantly to economic growth and development in advance and emerging economies. In a study conducted by the International Trade Centre it was found that for every USD $1 spent on a Trade Promotion Agency increase additional Exports by USD $87 and GDP by USD $ 384 was yielded. These entities provide assistance to trade and investment initiatives and utilising various incentives (financial and non-financial) to drive economic development in their regions. The presentation will outline the value of such agencies and how to optimally use incentives and well as prepare business to take advantage to these entities of their offerings.




 Doing business in the North-West province of South Africa – business and opportunities

This presentation will focus on key investment sectors highlighting agriculture & agro-processing, real estate & eco-tourism, manufacturing, renewable energy, transport and logistics. The North West Development Corporation is an official economic development agency for the NWPG and mandated to facilitate enterprise development, industrial & commercial business premises, investment facilitation, export development and promotion


Closing remarks and end of conference

Strategic partners

  • Trade Connect

Media partners

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  • SABI
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Co-located with

Attending countries

Where and When



19 Richard Drive, Midrand,
Johannesburg, 1685

Gallagher Convention Centre is one of Africa’s largest conference and exhibition venues. Located in Midrand, between Pretoria and Johannesburg, Gallagher is conveniently positioned in the business hub of Gauteng and is the ideal location.


Security monitored parking is available in an open air opposite the venue as well as behind Hall 5.


Sunday 21 JUNE 2020
Monday 22 JUNE 2020
Tuesday 23JUNE 2020


10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 16:00

The cost per day is R20.