Second, a much larger market, whose free movement of goods and services will help maintain economic growth of 6% to 7% per year. At this rate, Africa`s GDP is expected to reach $29 trillion by 2050, which would be in line with the current common GDP of the EU and the United States. With additional measures, such growth will make a significant contribution to the spread of prosperity and poverty reduction. This analytical approach is unique in that it applies in a regional context where the import demand and export supply of 26 countries are taken into account and where the opportunities for increased intra-regional trade in Africa are highlighted. “As Africa moves forward to consolidate the benefits of intracontinental trade and become competitive, it is of great importance to our region, the long-standing commitment of our heads of state and government to promote regional integration as a general vision for the production of increased trade in the tripartite region,” said COMESA SG. The TFTA will benefit Africa in at least six mutually reinforcing ways. First, the conclusion of the agreement will give impetus to the creation of similar agreements in West Africa, which will place economic centres such as Nigeria in a continental free trade area. Negotiations for a comprehensive agreement will begin in 2015, with an Africa-wide free market planned for 2017. Fifth, the signal of larger markets will also help boost trade in services. The first beneficiary should be the financial sector, which will be able to lend to larger industrialists seeking economies of scale. Such financial services will strengthen the increase in cross-border investment by emerging African companies, which serve as regional champions of industrial development.
The texts of the free trade agreement are here: www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/comesa-eac-sadc-tripartite-fta.html. Namibia is the youngest country to ratify the TFTA agreement and today the country`s High Commissioner in Zambia, Siyave Haindongo, tabled the ratification instrument to the chair of the tripartite task force Chilishe Kapwepwe, the secretary of COMESA. Between 2004 and 2014, intra-COMESA trade increased from $8 billion to $22 billion. Over the same period, CDIC trade increased from $20 billion to $72 billion, and for CAAs from $2.6 billion to $8.6 billion. Over the same period, total trade between the three regions increased from $30.6 billion to $102.6 billion. This is where the first challenge of regional integration within the ABC lies. Despite efforts to raise awareness among ABC departments about the requirements and benefits of integration, important constituencies, such as the political class, remain skeptical and uninformed about the provisions. Instead of supporting an effectively legitimate process, they create barriers by negatively influencing public opinion through conspiracy theories. Customs and trade officers, who are supposed to implement and monitor trade policy, may not be very interesting either.
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