AU aims to double intra-Africa trade by 2021

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-30 19:25:30|Editor: Zhou Xin
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ADDIS ABABA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The African Union on Friday announced its plan to double the current intra-Africa trade volume to 28 percent of its total trade volume by 2021 through its flagship Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) pact.

Labeling the current trade volume among African countries as "very low", Muchanga Albert, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, revealed the target and indicated that the continent is presently situated at "the right place and on target" to realize the major targets of AU's flagship CFTA pact.

The pan-African block, through the CFTA, aspires to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.

"Through the CFTA, we are progressively creating an integrated African market. We are creating one Africa with one market and one voice," Albert told reports at a press briefing during the 29th AU summit being held in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

The CFTA brings together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than 1 billion people and a combined GDP of more than 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

African leaders, during the 2015 AU summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, launched the negotiations for the CFTA by targeting 2017 to mark the completion of the first phase of the negotiations.

Albert also downplayed critics that claimed 2017 is too early for AU to conclude the first phase of the negotiations, saying "we are confident that by the end of this year, we shall have an integrated and commercially viable market place".

The CFTA, which was adopted during the 18th Ordinary Session of the AU heads of state in January 2012, has planned to foster the continent's trade in goods and services through its first phase while the second phase will focus on competition, investment and intellectual property right issues.

The CFTA is also accompanied by AU's Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT), which identifies seven clusters to augment free trade among AU member states.