International trade and market access must be facilitated for SMEs

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The government should facilitate market access for SMEs, as failure to do so will prevent the country from reaching optimal trade levels, the commentator warns.

Tourists shop in the old town of Marrakech, Morocco, on May 12, 2022. Photo: FADEL SENNA/AFP

Author: Tebogo Mokwena

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JOHANNESBURG — Accountant and economic commentator Khaya Sithole has called on the government to ease market access for SMEs, warning that failure to do so will prevent the country from reaching optimal levels of trade. Sithole said more should be done to allow small businesses to not only grow locally, but also have an international footprint.

He was speaking during a webinar organized by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which collaborated with the Department of Trade and Industry earlier this week.

The purpose of the webinar was to discuss the impact of outbound trade shows on SMEs.

Sithole pointed out that many people know a business exists until they arrive at a business event and someone explains what it is. He also said it was essential to facilitate and enable small businesses to enter the market.

“It remains remarkably important for us to be able to promote and enable many emerging small businesses to access the platforms, to have the type of visibility, (and) to have the type of market access that allows many more of potential business partners not only to know that they exist, but also (to attest) to the fact that they have done a particular job and are willing to engage and collaborate with different partners, especially across the continent” , did he declare.

“Each global business started in a particular community, in a particular setting with particular support mechanisms that enabled it not only to grow in that primary jurisdiction, but to spread its wings across continents, across borders and finally the world.”

Sithole also pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTFA), which came into force in 2018, would determine whether the continent was equipped to reverse its trade deficit.

“With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement now formalized, the question remains whether it will now be easier for a small business in South Africa, Burundi or Botswana to say they want to be able to move their goods to another part of the continent,” he said.

“If it’s easier (to do it), the next question would be whether there will be an increase in the volumes of these traded goods.”

Sithole also observed that South Africa and other countries on the continent were not doing enough trade with each other.

He, however, praised the AfCTFA and noted that it would put the continent on a better economic footing compared to other parts of the world.

“Other parts of the world have countries that have facilitated the migration of labor across borders for goods and services, with the understanding that the easier it is to move items from one jurisdiction to another , the cheaper it is for citizens of both countries to be able to trade with each other,” he said. “We know there are significant benefits associated with this type of free trade agreement. “

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