Ethiopia: AU announces breakthrough in free trade zone talks

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The African Union (AU) has announced a breakthrough in the talks to create a free trade zone, with a market for 1.5 billion people and a combined wealth of US$ 2.19 trillion.

The talks to create the Continental Free Trade Area reached a new roadmap leading to an agreement on the legal text to be adopted by the agreed date of Dec. 2017, the AU said in a statement Thursday.

The group of Chief Negotiators and Experts in trade from AU Member States met 2-7 October 2017 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to discuss on the timeframe for concluding an agreement.

The experts were attending the 7th Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF), where the roadmap leading to the creation of the continental trade zone was hammered.

“The participants made substantial progress, agreeing to adhere to the deadline of December 2017 to complete the draft legal text as directed by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government,” the AU said in a statement.

The experts reached an agreement on name and content of the legal text which would lead to the creation of the trade zone. The deal would be referred to as the “Agreement Establishing the Continental Free Trade Area,” the AU said.

A draft Protocol on Trade in Services and a separate draft Protocol of Trade in Goods have been reached as part of the negotiations towards creating the free trade area.

The CFTA is a flagship project of the Agenda 2063, aiming to boost Africa’s economic growth and development through integration by creating “One African Market,” according to the AU.

The ambitious integration project aims to boost intra-African trade and create a wider market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of US$ 2.19 trillion.

“The establishment of the CFTA is the first Agenda 2063 flagship project on target for completion within the roadmap established by the Agenda 2063 First Ten Year Implementation Plan,” the AU said.

The June 2015 AU Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa directed the second phase of the free trade area negotiations to proceed to negotiations on Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy after agreements are reached on the creation of the free trade area

During the meeting, scheduled for 6 November, 2017, to 1 December, 2017, Chief Negotiators are expected to prioritize the finalization of the CFTA.

The forum will consider pending issues in the Agreement Establishing the CFTA during their next meeting scheduled to take place from 20th – 24th November 2017  following a Dedicated Session on Trade in Goods.

“Any unresolved issues will be referred to the Committee of Senior Trade Officials and then to the AU Ministers of Trade. The entire legal text will be considered by the African Union Ministers of Trade at the end of November 2017, prior to its consideration by the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Justice and Legal Affairs in December 2017," the AU said.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 12Oct2017

12 october 2017 13:43:05

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