Continental Free Trade Area for Africa by 2017

26 July 2012 – The 19th ordinary session of the Assembly of heads of state and government of the African Union which met from 9-15 July 2012 in Addis Ababa has maintained the theme of the previous summit, “Boosting Intra-African Trade”. At the 18th ordinary session held in January 2012, African heads of state had adopted an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and agreed to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the indicative date of 2017.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the last decade saw African exports to the rest of the world grow at only two-thirds of the rate of intra-African exports. Heads of state welcomed the gradual growth in regional infrastructure and trade – especially exports of manufactured products – which could form the foundation for fast-tracking the CFTA and promoting intra-African trade. African heads of state stressed the need to understand and address the enablers and the constraints to the growth of African exports.

This places special importance on the need for accelerated industrialization and other sectoral strategies within the individual member states. It also entails a strong focus on trade facilitation initiatives, removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers. At the same time, Africa has to sustain investments in infrastructure – with the required investment estimated at a monumental US$94 billion to cover roads, rail, ports, energy, ICT, transport infrastructure, enhancing productive capacity, value addition and diversification. Such measures will help to ensure that member countries benefit from the opportunities by the CFTA.

Addressing the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee which met during the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, ADB president Donald Kaberuka echoed the call of the African countries “for the development of trade-related infrastructure and productive capacity building programmes” as well as “an enabling policy and legal framework so as to contribute specifically to the boosting of intra-African trade.”

Mr Kaberuka said he was confident that intra-African trade and African exports to the rest of the world could grow very fast if existing efforts were scaled up to improve the continent’s physical infrastructure which continues to undermine competitiveness and trade growth.

For more information, go to http://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/article/afdb-stands-ready-to-support-african-countries-in-establishing-continental-free-trade-area-by-2017-9574/

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a regional multilateral development finance institution established in 1964 to mobilize resources towards the economic and social progress of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs). It is headquartered in

Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Since beginning operation in 1966, the Bank has become a key player in promoting economic and social development in African states.  The African Development Fund established in 1972 and the Nigeria Trust Fund established in 1976, constitute with the AfDB as the flagship, the African Development Bank Group. For more information, visit www.adbg.org.

Source: African Development Bank