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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Eight African trading blocs to discuss
continental free trade area in Dec  

NAIROBI (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 summit.

“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 envisioned.

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 said.

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. 

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