African Union Calls for Continental Free Trade Area By 2017

Addis Ababa — AFRICAN leaders have resolved to establish a continental free trade area (FTA) by the year 2017, in a move designed to boost intra-African trade. This is among several resolutions adopted by the 18th African Union (AU) Summit which ended here early on Tuesday, after very long deliberations. The leaders have directed the AU Commission to draw a road-map on implementation of the proposed FTA and a detailed plan of action.

Cross border traders
Cross border traders

The summit, however, underscored the need to improve infrastructure throughout the continent and removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. The outgoing AU Commission Chairman, Dr Jean Ping, on Sunday urged African countries to enhance trading among themselves to lift economic growth and development on the continent.

“African countries do not trade enough with themselves,” Ping said in his address at the opening of summit under the theme: “Boosting Intra-African Trade.” Dr Ping, a seasoned Gabonese diplomat, told the summit that increased intra-African trade would lay the foundation for “stronger and more sustainable economic growth.”

AU sources say African intra-regional trade accounts for 11 per cent of the continent’s total trade volume, while Asia accounts for 47 per cent and Europe the rest. The summit expressed concern over pockets of insecurity and protracted conflicts in Africa including Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Libya.

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