Egypt targets boosting trade exchange with Africa, says PM ahead of COMESA summit

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Nov 2021

Egypt targets boosting trade exchange with African countries, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in the Cabinet's meeting on Thursday as the country prepares to host the 21st Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

PM Madbouly in Cabinet meeting
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly during the Cabinet meeting. (Photo: Cabinet)

The summit, which will be attended by various heads of African states and government, is set to be held on 23 November in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Egypt attaches great importance to assuming the presidency of the COMESA [for the first time since 2001], Madbouly said.

COMESA was founded in December 1994 – to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) that had existed since 1981 – as an organisation of free independent sovereign states, which have agreed to cooperate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people.

COMESA forms a major marketplace for both internal and external trading with  21 member states that have a total population of over 583 million, a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $805 billion, and a global export/import trade in goods worth a total of $324 billion. 

Zambia hosted the last COMESA summit in Lusaka in 2018.

Egypt is hosting the summit as part of the country's commitment to enhancing joint action between African states to increase economic growth rates, overcome free trade obstacles among member countries, and face challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Madbouly stressed.

The PM told the Cabinet that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi wants Egypt to reinforce regional integration and promote trade relations with COMESA members.

"Egypt is contributing to promoting commercial ties between [COMESA] member states," he added.

African trade agreements

Madbouly said regional cooperation between trade blocs has been a most important mechanism for achieving development. 

Egypt is a signatory to several trade agreements among African countries, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018 in Rwanda’s Kigali and went into force in January 2021, following months of delays owing to the pandemic.

Thirty-nine states out of the 55 members of the African Union have ratified the AfCFTA agreement with the aim of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.

AfCFTA is the biggest trade deal in the world in terms of the number of member countries since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994.

The bloc's reach impacts more than 1.2 billion people, with a total GDP of about $3.4 trillion, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.

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