Egypt trade minister to attend AU summit to launch African Continental Free Trade Area

Ahram Online , Tuesday 20 Mar 2018

The agreement would establish the world’s largest free trade area

Tarek Qabel
File Photo: Egypt's Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil (Photo: Ahram)

Egypt's Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil will participate on Wednesday in an extraordinary African Union Summit in Rwanda’s capital Kigali to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) including 55 countries, the ministry said on Tuesday. 

The agreement would establish the world’s largest free trade area through an agreement that covers the trade of goods and services, investments and intellectual property rights.

Kabil said that the signing is an "important step towards creating a common African market, achieving African economic integration, and placing the continent back on the world trade map," according to a statement from the ministry. 

The main objective of the CFTA is to “create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union,” according to the AU website.

It also aims at boosting intra-trade, as trade among African countries accounts for only 13 percent of Africa’s total trade, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa said last year.

The CFTA covers African countries with a combined population of over 1 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3.4 trillion, according to the Union’s website.

In January 2012, the African Union summit adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the decision to establish a Pan-Africa Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) by an indicative date of 2017.

The BIAT focuses on “trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration” and targets doubling trade flows by 2022.  

The agreement is the first step in the implementation of the African Union Commission’s Agenda 2063 framework endorsed by Egypt.

Africa 2063 is a strategic framework targeting inclusive growth, sustainable development, and optimising the use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans, according to a 2015 framework document.

Egypt has been adopting a policy of consolidation of its political and economic relations with African countries since 2014.

A Federation of Egyptian Industries delegation is currently in Rwanda to meet with business representatives, the first in a series of visits to African countries to boost trade relations. 

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