Continental Free Trade Area for Africa endorsed

WINDHOEK – NAMIBIA supports the AFRICAN Continental Free Trade Area but has decided not to sign the deal at the recent AU Extraordinary Session in KIGALI, RWANDA.

President HAGE GEINGOB says the integration of AFRICA is vital for unity and Pan-AFRICANISM.

However, he says NAMIBIA has to analyse conditions of its membership and commitments to the SOUTHERN AFRICAN CUSTOMS UNION, SACU, before signing up.

The AU began talks on the creation of the area THREE years ago to boost intra-continental trade among all its 54-member states, and 44 nations have signed up within 18-months.

TWO of AFRICA’s biggest economies, SOUTH AFRICA and NIGERIA, as well as BENIN, BURUNDI, LESOTHO, ERITREA, SIERRA LEONE and GUINEA BISSAU are yet to join.

The 18TH Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of AU leaders in JANUARY 2012 in ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, resolved to set up the CFTA by 2017.

They also endorsed a plan to boost intra-AFRICA Trade in SEVEN clusters; trade policy and facilitation, productive capacity, trade infrastructure, finance, information and factor market integration.

The CFTA aims to bring together the 54 countries with a combined population of more than ONE-BILLION and a gross domestic product of more than THREE-POINT-FOUR-TRILLION US dollars.

A report by the AU says such a market creates opportunities for largescale production for producers on the continent.

It quotes the World Trade Organisation as saying the level of intra-AFRICAN trade in 2012 was 12-POINT-EIGHT percent, which is very low compared to other regions in the world.

Meanwhile, the share of total AFRICAN exports in global trade flows is just THREE-POINT-FIVE percent, which is also extremely low compared to other regions.

AFRICAN exporters face an average non-agriculture applied tariff protection rate of SEVEN-POINT-EIGHT percent, which exceeds what they would face when exporting to EUROPE and the UNITED STATES.

On the other hand, trade among the major economies of AFRICA that do not belong to the same Regional Economic Community is on the basis of the most favoured nation principle.

commercial reality of cross border trade in AFRICA simply calls for more to action to come up with a framework to reduce tariffs, eliminate non-tariff barriers, and bring rules for contract enforcement and dispute settlement among other things.

The AU says the CFTA provides such a framework and is in line with the goal of the ABUJA Treaty establishing the AFRICAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY./Sabanews/cam

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