Egypt to sign African free trade deal as part of 2063 plan: El-Sisi

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 Jun 2015

Egypt launches a tripartite African economic summit in Sharm El-Sheikh

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt is set to sign on Wednesday an agreement to form Africa’s largest free trade area (FTA) as part of a larger-scale African agenda for the year 2063, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in his opening speech at a tripartite African economic summit.

The deal brings together 26 African countries that are members of the three regional economic committees (REC): COMESA, EAC and SADC. It aims to create free trade zones for goods immediately with the hope of introducing services and intra-continent investor opportunities at a later stage.

El-Sisi said, opening the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, the project is part of larger agenda set to make Africa a “powerful force” by 2063.

It involves connecting African countries with a strong infrastructural network, including transportation, energy and telecommunication.

El-Sisi also referred to the construction of a road network connecting the south of Africa to its northern shores. He said Egypt had recently completed a road connecting it to Sudan and is currently finishing the construction of crossings on the road.

The FTA to be signed Wednesday includes 26 countries with 57 percent of the African population and over 60 percent of African GDP.

An FTA covering the whole African continent is expected to be formed by 2017.

El-Sisi also said that Egypt is engaged in “strenuous efforts” to complete its obligations toward forming a shipping line between Lake Victoria, source of the River Nile, and the Mediterranean Sea. He said his government had recently presented a technical report on the mega project.

Meanwhile, El-Sisi also pointed to the “importance of African women as a “key partner” to achieve the “aspired for” levels of sustainable development in Africa.

He also said, as part of Africa’s 2063 plan, empowering “poor and breadwinner” women in particular and reinforcing their “economic and political” role are critical factors in eradicating poverty.

In closing, El-Sisi asserted his country’s commitment to African cooperation, saying Egypt will not withhold any efforts to take part in development projects.

He added that security, stability and economic development mutually affect each other and have to go hand in hand to achieve African aspirations. 

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