African envoys hail free trade area for boosting trade

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Kigali, March 18 (IANS) African ambassadors to the African Union (AU) have stressed on the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to intra-African trade on the sidelines of an ongoing AU extraordinary summit.

During the the AU’s extraordinary summit on the AfCFTA, which kicked off on Saturday in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, many of them also said their countries are ready to embrace the AfCFTA, Xinhua news agency reported.

African leaders are expected to sign an agreement to launch the AfCFTA on March 21, the last day of the summit, according to the AU.

“Africa has a great business potential to offer to millions of its citizens, but the continent has not been able to unlock its business potential due to limited trading opportunities existing among African economies,” said Evariste Koffi Yapi, Permanent Representative of Cote d’Ivoire to the AU.

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Creating a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businessmen and investments will thus boost intra-African trade and the prosperity of Africa, Yapi told Xinhua.

He added that the AfCFTA will significantly contribute to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, employment generation and better integration of the continent.

“My country was ready to make it possible for the AfCFTA agenda to be successful for the better future of Africa,” said Yapi.

According to Gairy M. Saddigh, Permanent Representative of Libya to the AU, the AfCFTA will contribute immensely to opening up trading opportunities among African economies, which will significantly increase exports and imports through intra-regional trade.

“We all know the opportunities trade can offer for development and growth. Creation of a single African market will enhance competitiveness of African local industries and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production and better reallocation of resources,” he told Xinhua.

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The AfCFTA will create huge market potential for African goods and services, which would help Africa boost industrial development, promote economic transformation and create prosperity, said Ndumiso Ntshinga, South African Permanent Representative to the AU.

“The South African government is ready to implement the process and utilize opportunities accruing from the African single market,” he said.

–IANS

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