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Towards a Continental Free Trade Area

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - 24 February, 2016

The 1st Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF), kicked off at the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters in Addis Ababa. During the next three days, Member States will consider the post launch preparatory issues and essential process issues and technical documents that will enable the efficient conduct of the negotiations. The Meeting will consider and adopt the Rules of Procedure for the CFTA Negotiating Forum.

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2015, launched the negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The launch of the negotiations marked a major milestone in the implementation of the Summit decision to establish a continental free trade area by the Indicative date of 2017.

In her statement, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl reminded participants how critical it is to deliver the CFTA by 2017. “Why is this important? Because the whole world is watching and waiting.  And Africa must prove to itself and the whole world that it can agree internally on solutions towards its own development. We must strive to deliver the CFTA by 2017, and the Rules of Procedure that we will be considering and adopting in this session will be highly consequential in this regard”, she echoed.

According to the Commissioner, negotiating a free trade area among such various Member States will require enormous amounts of energy, effort, and persistence. At the same time, Commissioner Acyl also acknowledged that diversity is Africa’s strength, that’s why she urged the participants to work as a team in a spirit of tolerance. “With a collective spirit of “Together as one Africa”, where disagreements are tolerated and differences of opinion are encouraged, we can and will prevail.  With your commitment, the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) can and will become a reality”, she concluded.

The role of the African Union Commission in the negotiations is to provide and coordinate technical and administrative support to the Member States and REC’s. The AUC also serves as the Secretariat to the CFTA Negotiating Forum. In playing its support and harmonization role, the AUC closely collaborates with the RECs, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who are members of the Continental Task Force on the CFTA which operates at the level of Chief Executive Officers and at the Technical level.

African Union Commission

 

 

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