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Southern Africa: Angola to join free trade in two years

Angola Press Agency (Luanda) | 15 August 2008

Southern Africa: Angola to Join Free Trade in Two Years


Angola will join the Free Trade Area (FTA) of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in two to three years time.

This was said Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Angolan Planning minister, Ana Dias Lourenço.

"For reasons we all know, our country will not join the Free Trade Area this year (...) as we are not in a position to do so," she said to Angolan journalists alongside the SADC ministerial summit that started on Thursday.

The country experienced a long lasting war, it is going through a reconstruction phase, of relaunch of internal production and "we consider that we are not in a position to join the Free Trade Area as yet," the minister stressed.

"In due time, when all conditions that we consider as important are in place to set this step, we will do so," added the planning minister, who would not add details.

She explained that of the 14 members of the regional group, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi, will not immediately join the FTA.

Ana Dias Lourenço is at the head of Angola’s delegation to the SADC meeting that is preparing the summit of the region’s head of State and Government set for the weekend.

The summit, SADC’s 28th, at which Angola will be represented by a high level delegation, will witness the launch, on Sunday, of the regional organisation’s FTA.

The meeting will, among other aspects, focus on customs policies among the member countries, reinforcement of economic integration and creation of a broader job market.

The FTA will facilitate the flow of goods, through the increment of cooperation, reduction of costs through the introduction of a unique standardised document, major transhipment and creation of common border posts.

The FTA creates a regional market estimated at Usd 360 billion, out of a universe of 170 million inhabitants and with economies moving at a seven percent growth, the source adds.

Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to join.

As to the Customs Union, the note reads, it is created when a group of countries establish a common customs territory, when there is a free trade area, with a external tariff common to all member states.

The implementation of SADC Free Trade Zone started in the year 2000, following the signing of a protocol on commercial exchange in 1996.

The SADC regional integration programme includes the tablishment of he FTA until 2008, while the Customs Union goes until 2010, Common Market until 2015, the Monetary Union (2016) and Common Currency until 2018.

Meanwhile, SADC executive secretary, Tomás Salomão, said that Southern Africa is optimistic about the FTA, despite the constraints and challenges involved.

The heads of state summit will also tackle the political situation in the sub-region, with highlight to that prevailing in Zimbabwe, a matter which was particularly addressed at Luanda’s Wednesday meeting between president José Eduardo dos Santos and his South African colleague, Thabo Mbeki.

The Zimbabwean crisis got worsened after Roberto Mugabe was re-elected in the presidential run-off held on 27 June, in which he was the only candidate, after his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, dropped out of the race, on allegations of violence perpetrated against his supporters.

SADC comprises Angola, South Africa, Botswana, DR Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.