The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is expected to be launched on Wednesday.
The agreement, which has been signed by 52 countries, is aimed at increasing tariff-free trade activity within the continent and boosting job-creating industries.
Despite the huge step forward with the launch of the agreement, it will be some time before the first free trade item crosses a border.
Trudi Hartzenberg from Cape Town-based Trade Law Centre says although South Africa is the most integrated country there are parts of the continent that still need to tap into.
“We have no agreements yet with West Africa or with Central Africa or with North Africa so opening up new trade opportunities is particularly important for South Africa”, said Hartzenberg.
A number of issues including tariff schedules, import tariff concessions and rules of origin need to be ironed out before the agreement can fully be implemented.