African countries should unite and form their own common market to bolster preferential trade required to drive economic growth and development, says African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Addressing the opening of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday, she said opening up of markets, liberalization of economies and facilitating free movement of people across the continent were key elements in driving Africa’s economic growth and development.

In order to further Africa’s economic growth and development agenda, the AU is pursuing various initiatives including creating a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) to boost intra-African trade.

Another initiative is the launch of the AU Passport, a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063 aimed at facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent -in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development.

“The world is moving towards mega trading blocks, that all exclude us, and the Doha Development Round of negotiations have failed to even start. Unless we unite to form our African common market, the little bit of preferential trade we have at the moment, will be further eroded,” said Dhlaminin-Zuma.

“If we continue building momentum on the continental free movement of people and on the Continental Free Trade Area it will create better conditions for our traders, farmers, business, entrepreneurs and innovators to invest trade with each other and build Pan African companies and brand.”

The PRC meeting kicked off the mid-term African Union summit which will end with the Heads of State and Government meting to be held this coming Sunday and Monday.

Dlamini Zuma said the non-existence of a free market was having a negative impact on the continent’s economic growth since competing on international markets was still a challenge.

Last year, three sub-regional economic blocs — the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) merged to form an enlarged economic bloc.

Dubbed the Grand FTA, the bloc is meant to foster deeper economic integration on the continent and is currently made up of 26 countries. The union creates a combined market of 625 million people with a collective gross domestic product of 1.2 trillion US dollars.

It is on that basis that the AU wants to establish the GFTA.

Source: Nam News Network

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