Africa: New African Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the offing

By Nawa Mutumweno – A free trade agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) is on the cards, according to South African Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies.

Briefing journalists in Cape Town on February 22, 2011, Davies said a summit between the three regional economic communities (RECS) would be hosted soon.

A SADC conference held earlier in February to prepare for this summit has proved useful to provide groundwork for the free-trade agreement among the three trade blocs.

“The signs are there that we can seriously move forward,” Davies enthused.

The conclusion of the three trade agreement would mean the promotion of a market containing 26 countries, with a combined GDP of $624 billion and a population of 700 million people

There is growing evidence that Africa would be the next economic success story.

According to a McKinsey report issued last year, dubbed ‘Lions on the Move’, the mineral boom and growing domestic demand, in particular from the middle-class, are the key drivers of growth on the continent.

African countries needed to work together for opportunities on mineral beneficiation projects as this would be a key point of discussion at a meeting of the Council of African Ministers of Industry in Algeria in April. The Council is a newly formed initiative by the Department of Trade and Industry, involving trade and industry ministers from Africa.