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Each day TFO Canada publishes a sample of trade news on the Canadian import market along with any new, updated or changed regulations and legislations regarding international trade; countries in which TFO Canada offers services and on the export sectors which it promotes.


Africa Set for Free Trade Area Launch December

Tuesday, November 04, 2014 > 09:51:09

(All Africa)

THE long awaited journey to unite the whole continent into a single African state is expected to be flagged off in December, with the establishment of one large borderless Free Trading Area (FTA).

The proposed FTA move is expected to knit together the four existing trading blocs on the continent which are, the East African Community (EAC) the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

A statement from Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, the secretary general of COMESA who is also the Chairperson of the COMESA-EACSADC Tripartite task-force which was made available in Arusha is to the effect that the FTA will come into effect in Cairo, Egypt in mid-December 2014.

"Recent Tripartite Sectoral Committee of Ministers agreed that the Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in Egypt in mid-December 2014, would launch the FTA taking into account the fact that the majority of member and partner states have made ambitious tariff offers and were agreed on rules of origin to be applied in the interim, whilst further work continues on product specific rules of origin," Mr Ngwenya's statement clarified.

The FTA encompasses 26 member and partner states from COMESA, EAC and SADC, with a combined population of 625 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.2 trillion US dollars and will account for half of the membership of the African Union and 58 per cent of the continent's GDP.

It will be the largest economic bloc on the continent and the launching pad for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in 2017.

According to experts, the FTA offers significant opportunities for business and investment within the tripartite and will act as a magnet for attracting foreign direct investment.

The business community, in particular, will benefit from an improved and harmonised trade regime which reduces the cost of doing business as a result of elimination of overlapping trade regimes due to multiple memberships.

This is the first phase of implementing a developmental regional integration strategy that places high priority on infrastructure development, industrialisation and free movement of business persons.

In order for the FTA to realise inclusive and equitable growth, the meeting agreed on the need for expeditious formulation and implementation of a regional industrial programme.

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