Intra-African trade to hike to $3T after African blocs agreement: COMESA

CAIRO: The African Free Trade Zone (AFTZ) agreement will lead to a hike in the inter-trade rates to reach $3 trillion; compared $1.3 trillion in current trade, Youm7 quoted the largest African free trade area as saying Monday.

Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA,) Sindiso Ngwenya, added that once enforced, the agreement will reduce the cost of exchanged trade and improve investment intra-African investment, Youm7 reported.

“Signing AFTZ between the three African blocs; Southern African Development Community (SADC), COMESA and the East African Community (EAC,) is a step towards creating a custom union including the 26 member states of the blocs,” said Ngwenya on the sidelines of the African blocs’ summit.

The eighth meeting of the biggest African economic blocs’ tripartite summit was launched Sunday in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh to sign the AFTZ agreement, establishing a free trade zone between the 26 member states of the three trade areas.

The agreement will facilitate reaching 625 million consumers from South Africa to Egypt, and create a free trade union comprising more than 60 percent of the continent’s economic activity, according to Kenyan business newspaper Business Daily Africa.

The African continent is the ultimate “winner” in the development process in the upcoming period, as many African countries have already achieved higher rates of growth, according to economic indicators, Ngwenya said.

Both Ngwenya and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Michael Bimha, who is also the head of the African blocs, commended Egypt’s recent efforts to coordinate between African states to reach the agreement and the goal of an African joint market.

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