Region courts Comesa, SADC for free trade area


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ivibration

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EAST AFRICA: East Africa Community (EAC) member States have deepened negotiations with Comesa and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) towards forming a tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA).

The alliance encompassing 27 member countries, is viewed as a major step towards the realisation of the African Economic Community. President Uhuru Kenyatta said continental integration agenda is necessary to sustain and enhance high economic growth momentum.

“Considerable progress has been made towards regional and continental integration, but a lot still remains to be done,” he said.

“Kenya is ready to partner with our sister countries in the southern, central, western and northern regions, to fast-track the implementation of the recently adopted Continental Free Trade Area. Kenya has also offered to provide technical support to the process.”

Bigger summit

The President noted that integration relating to infrastructure development, food security and the free movement of people, goods and services is critical for the growth of the continent. Uhuru was speaking during the 2013 Jamhuri day 50th anniversary celebrations in Nairobi Thursday.

Significant progress has been made in implementing the Tripartite FTA although behind schedule. The Tripartite FTA was scheduled for launch in January last year but failed to take place. The approval process faced some delays due to the inability by the member States to set up an agreeable date for the tripartite summit to meet.

The Comesa-EAC-SADC Tripartite was established in 2005 to strengthen and deepening economic integration of the southern and eastern Africa region. This is being achieved through various initiatives aimed at harmonising policies and programmes of the three regional economic communities in trade, customs and infrastructure development.

The Tripartite FTA seeks to enhance free movement of businesspersons and achieve economic growth by reducing barriers to trade — both tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The FTA arrangement also seeks to remove some of the inconsistencies and costs in regional integration brought about through overlapping memberships. Some of the benefits associated with countries being members of more than one regional economic group include achievement of economies of scale.

Through developing its large internal market, Africa and producers in the continent will be in a position to compete globally.

According to Comesa Secretariat Tripartite countries account for half (27) of the Membership of the Africa Union. They have a Gross Domestic Product of $1.3 trillion (Sh112 trillion), a population of 565 million.

Annual import bill

Comesa alone brings to the tripartite table 19 member States, a population of over 490 million and an annual import bill of around $150 billion and an export bill of $82 billion. On the other hand SADC total trade has followed a similar pattern to total world trade.

--eastandard.co.ke
 

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