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Africa Targets Free Trade Area By 2017

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

02 February 2012

The statement issued at the end of the 18th summit of the African Union (AU) has confirmed that African countries will target the establishment of a continental free trade area (CFTA) by 2017.

The AU has produced a three-step plan in preparation for the CFTA, with the first move being finalization of the tripartite agreement between the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community by 2014.

The second will be to urge other trade blocs to follow the experience of the tripartite agreement and reach parallel agreements between 2012 and 2014, before, finally, the tripartite and other regional free trade areas would be consolidated into the CFTA initiative between 2015 and 2016.

"Enhanced intra-African trade and deepened market integration can contribute significantly to sustainable economic growth, employment generation, poverty reduction, the inflow of foreign direct investment, industrial development and the better integration of the continent into the global economy," the statement said.

Africa has seven major regional trade blocs, including the Economic Community of West African States, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Arab Maghreb Union and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, in addition to those within the proposed tripartite agreement.

TAGS: South Africa | tax | Niger | Nigeria | trade treaty | Algeria | Congo, Republic of the | agreements | Botswana | Congo, Democratic Republic of the | Kenya | trade | Africa

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