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Xinhua | 28-01-2015
Tripartite free trade area in Africa to launch in May : AU official
ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — A senior official of African Union (AU) said Tuesday the long-awaited tripartite free trade area between three regional blocs is expected to be launched in May in Cairo, Egypt.
To boost intra-Africa trade, AU heads of state in January 2012 decided to establish the continental free trade area (CFTA) by 2017 between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In a press briefing in the framework of the 24th AU summit at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Fatima Haram Acyl, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, said the tripartite free trade area is something to be encouraged as a roadmap for the continental free trade area in Africa.
"This is something to be encouraged because as a roadmap for the continental free trade area, this is the first point that was noted by the member states, by the heads of states. We are very happy that it will advance and we are launching this tripartite FTA in May of 2015 in Cairo," she said.
With 26 countries, 625 million people, and 1.2 trillion U.S. dollar gross domestic products (GDP), the three regional blocs said earlier they would be completing the tripartite free trade area in December of 2014, recalled the commissioner.
"I just want to say that 26 member countries as I say 625 million people and 1.2 trillion of GDP. So, it is very important for Africa and that’s why actually, we as a Commission, we go there and we part of the negotiations, we follow with keen interest the negotiations," she said.
The commissioner said her department has made progress in promoting intra-African trade.
She announced that the commission is striving towards providing a common AU passport to facilitate a continental free movement of people across the borders of the respective African countries which will enhance trade within Africa.
The commissioner underscored the need for the statistics of the free trade areas to be reviewed so as to provide African business men with updated data to enable them to do their business transaction and networking efficiently.