(Xinhua) -- Eight African regional trading blocs will
begin discussions on the formation of a single continental free
trade area in December, an official said on Friday.
The principal program officer for the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commission,
Christian Appiah, said that African leaders had also approved
the commencement of the talks during the next African Union
“So far each of the trading blocs have
already developed a common strategy to use during the
negotiations,” Appiah told journalists in Nairobi, Kenya.
Appiah led a ECOWAS delegation for a
one-week study of East African Community (EAC) trade
facilitation projects in Kenya, with the aim being for similar
projects to be replicated in the 15-member ECOWAS bloc.
Three trading blocs in Eastern and
Southern Africa have signed a tripartite agreement to form a
single trading bloc.
Appiah said that the Africa free trade
area will be implemented in stages due to numerous challenges
Appiah said that the biggest hurdle
facing a fully functional continental free trade area was the
implementation of regional policies agreed upon by governments.
“Customs and immigration officials
will have to implement the rules that relax border controls
for Africa goods and people traveling in the region in order
for the 54-member state free trade area to be effective,” he
He said that currently intra-Africa
trade was lagging behind trade of other regions due to the
various tariff and non-tariff barriers present.
“Unfortunately Africa traders often
face hurdles when exporting their goods within the same
regional economic blocs despite commitment made by
governments to relax border controls,” he said.