Addis Ababa: The Africa Union (AU) has established a permanent committee at the presidential level to promote Intra-African trade by pushing for the removal of trade barriers, ahead of the 2017 deadline for creating a continental Free Trade Area (FTA). The High-Level African Trade Committee will comprise the eight economic blocs, and the Presidents of each of the regional blocs will be members of the Committee, alongside the AU Commission Chairperson.
The panel, which will be a permanent committee of the AU Assembly, has as its key role the unlocking of any trade barriers. The committee, which will meet twice a year, is also expected to ensure that a proposed road map for clearing trade barriers across the continent is implemented speedily to boost regional trade.
A report endorsed by African leaders currently meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the 19th Ordinary Summit of the AU, said if the goals of creating the FTA were realised within the deadline, the region would become a single Economic Community by 2025.
“Africa would be better placed to use trade as the engine of growth and development and to integrate effectively in the international economy,” the leaders said in the report, obtained by PANA Monday.
African leaders attending the summit, which focuses on boosting intra-African trade, have expressed their support for the creation of an enlarged continental FTA. Ministers of foreign affairs and trade attending the AU Summit have expressed optimism at the steps to fast-track trade and remove the trade barriers.
In Kenya, where trade barriers with neighbour Tanzania have been removed, trade has more than quadrupled, from a paltry US$200 million to US$1 billion, with the launch of the regions customs union.