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Kenya and Ghana deposit documents with
AU of ratification for continental FTA

ADDSIA ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Ghana on Thursday deposited documents with the African Union (AU) of ratification toward establishing African continental free trade area (AfCTFA).

AfTCFA is seen as vital for Africa’s economic development and its integration, facilitating free movement of people, goods, and services within the continent.

In March, 44 AU member states signed the AfCFTA during the AU extraordinary summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kenya and Ghana are the first two countries to ratify the AfCFTA by their parliaments, and deposit documents of ratification with the AU.

“By ratification, it means that the legal instruments that are signed by the heads of states are now part of domestic law,” AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga told journalists after a ceremony at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The AU Commission hopes that in the coming nine to 12 months, the AfCTFA will be ratified by 22 member states, the minimum to enable it to come into force, Muchanga said.

Hailing the commitment of the two countries, the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called on other AU member states to follow suit.

“I congratulate Kenya and Ghana for being the first AU member states to deposit their instruments of ratification with the AU Commission,” Faki said at the ceremony.



South African cabinet approves continental free trade agreement

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African cabinet has approved the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement that establishes the common market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and Southern African Development Community, a cabinet spokesperson said on Thursday.

Now the agreement is going to Parliament for ratification, Phumla Williams said after a cabinet meeting in Cape Town.

The TFTA is a key Africa-led project that marks a decisive step to overcome the continent’s colonial heritage of small fragmented markets, Williams said.

This will be achieved by promoting intra-African investments and attracting more foreign investment into the free trade area, she said.

As a result of regional integration efforts and stable economies, there has been strong growth in intra-African investments, said Williams.

The TFTA will boost intra-Africa trade in accordance with the aspirations of the AU’s Agenda 2063

As part of Africa’s integration approach, the envisaged AFTA is designed to combine market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value-added products, as well as alleviate the chronic infrastructure deficit in the continent.

Besides offering an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment, the TFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products and services in West Africa and North Africa.

The South African government has repeatedly stated that it is committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of approximately 2.6 trillion U.S. dollars.


Africa’s continental FTA complements China-
proposed Belt and Road Initiative: officials

By Shiferaw Tadesse ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua) -- The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) complements the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in facilitating trade and cooperation among different countries, a senior African Union (AU) official said here on Thursday.

The AfCFTA and the Belt and Road Initiative are complementary as both focus on infrastructure development and connectivity toward facilitating trade and cooperation among countries, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga told Xinhua after attending a ceremony whereby Kenya and Ghana deposited documents with the (AU) of ratification toward establishing the AfCFTA.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at achieving policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, building a new platform for international cooperation, and creating new drivers of shared development to benefit more countries and people.

Years of efforts by the African Union toward a continental free trade area bore fruit in March, when 44 of the AU’s 55 member states of the Pan-African bloc signed the AfCFTA at an extraordinary summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kenya and Ghana are the first two countries that ratified the agreement. A minimum of 22 countries are needed for the AfCFTA to come into force.

The AU commissioner expressed hope that that threshold could be cleared in the coming nine to 12 months.

The AfCTFA complements the Belt and Road Initiative with transport, telecommunication interlinkages across the continent, Muchanga said.

“We are building railways. We are building roads. We are building airlines (airports). We are also building communication interlinkages among others,” he said.

The year 2000 saw the initiation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a structured cooperation mechanism between China and African countries on different areas.

China will host the next FOCAC summit in September.

Sino-African trade and partnership is increasing, and the upcoming FOCAC summit would review such cooperation, the AU commissioner said.

Catherine Muigai Mwangi, Kenyan ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU, said African countries have been enjoying partnership and cooperation with China, particularly through the FOCAC platform.

Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses on infrastructure development and connectivity among countries for mutual benefit, helps Africa realize its integration agenda, the ambassador said.

Africa cooperates with China, focusing on priority projects that have continental impact, Mwangi said.

“For instance, you want to develop infrastructure that connects countries. If you focus on infrastructure that is within a country, it doesn’t promote integration,” she said. “So you want cross-border infrastructure that connects from country to country. That’s when we will be able to move people, move goods, and thereby attain true integration.”


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