Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area Irons Out Movement Logistics

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With the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the 3 regional blocs are accelerating the process of regional integration.

The council of ministers of the economic blocs Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) discussed — among other topics, the draft guidelines of the three-part mechanism on safe movement in the region.

An important conversation in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — in addition to the approach to accelerating and implementing the Tripartite Free Trade Area.

The agreement was signed in 2015, involves 26 countries i.e. 625 million people and extends from the north to the south of Africa.

Ricardo de Abreu, the Angolan Minister of Transports, shares his insight on the goings-on.

“The free trade area aims at exactly that, to ensure that there is an increase in the volume of intracontinental trade, which is something that does not happen, therefore, not only here in this southern region but in the rest of the continent. Inter-African trade is very low, and not only because of the need for better infrastructure. The business professionals themselves and the economic players often seek solutions and opportunities much further away when the market is here, the market is next door.”

Efficient Integration of Continental Trading Areas

The objective of the tripartite free trade agreement is the creation of a customs union that integrates the member states — from Egypt up top all the way down to South Africa.

The representatives of the regional economic blocs — namely COMESA, EAC and SADC, met on Monday by videoconference to analyse the legal regulations that will be in force at the time of the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area.

The meeting recommended that countries that have not yet ratified the agreement do so by July of this year.