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Tripartite Summit agrees Free Trade Agreement


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Egypt is hosting a meeting of the third COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit during which 26 nations covering large tracts of Africa have signed a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) after five years of talks. The FTA agreement will integrate the three trading blocs the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which cover the eastern side of Africa from Egypt down to South Africa covering around 560 million people (Around 56% of Africa’s population). Although agreement has been reached it is expected to take several more years before a final timeline to bring down trade barriers is agreed and all the parliaments have ratified the agreement.

You can find a three page briefing on the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite negotiations here.

http://www.comesa.int/attachments/article/1518/Overview%20of%20the%20Tripartite%20Free%20Trade%20Area.pdf

Egyptian President El Sisi as the Head of State of the host country addressed the opening of the summit and his address s published on the State Information Service website is as follows:

“Inaugural statement by H.E. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi at the summit of the three African economic blocs COMESA, SADC and EAC

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sharm El Sheikh, June 10, 2015

Your excellency the president of Zimbabwe, the head of the three economic blocs, the head of SADC and the African Union chairman

Your excellency the Ethiopian prime minister, the head of the COMESA, the coming chairman of the three economic blocs

Your excellency the vice president of Tanzania, whose country is the current chairman of the EAC

Ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government and chief delegates

Your excellency the secretary general of the COMESA and general coordinator of the three blocs

Ladies and gentlemen, honourable guests

Allow me in the beginning to welcome you all in Sharm El Sheikh city and to express my high appreciation for his excellency my brother Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his remarkable efforts and his success in leading the three economic blocs with wisdom and far-sighted vision over the past years.

I would like also to thank the secretary generals of the three economic blocs the COMESA, SADC and EAC for their efforts regarding all technical and organizational aspects for boosting economic cooperation and integration among the three economic blocs.

It is also a source of pride that Egypt, which has always been proud of its African affiliation, hosts the launch of the tripartite free trade area, whose statutory agreement will be signed here today for enhancing the trade movement among our countries through removing all customs impediments and other hindrances in an effort to achieve comprehensive economic and commercial integration among our countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, honourable guests

What we are undertaking today constitutes a critical juncture and a turning point in the history of African economic integration as we launch a tripartite free trade area grouping in its membership 26 countries whose population hit 625 million with a gross domestic product of about 1.2 trillion US dollars, representing around 57 percent of the total African population and around 60 percent of the total African gross domestic product. This area extends from Alexandria on the Mediterranean to Cape Town on the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Therefore, what we are undertaking today is a major step towards setting up the economic union for Africa in accordance with Lagos Plan for the year 1980 and Abuja Treaty for the year 1991 and in line with 2063 agenda which constitutes a collective vision for our African continent and a future road map for the coming 50 years so that Africa would become an active power on the international arena by the year 2063. This could be achieved through ambitious programs and mechanisms for implementing this agenda atop of which comes setting up the free trade area for the African continent by the year 2017 and connecting all parts of Africa through international-standard infrastructure projects in the domains of transportation, energy, information technology and telecommunication along with establishing African financial institutions within specific timeframes.

Your excellency heads of state and government

It is no secret that strenuous efforts are required, together with the political will, to launch the tripartite free trade area and enhance regional economic integration. Also, hard work is required to achieve industrial development and boost our industrial capacities through adopting national and regional policies that are aimed at increasing the added value for our raw materials and increasing the competitiveness of our goods and products. This will eventually reflect positively on increasing our capacity for attracting more investments and capital for industrialization and modern technology sectors for producing high-quality products; a state of affairs that will lead to increasing out inter-trade movement.

I would like to seize this opportunity to express my appreciation for adopting resolutions on the importance of comprehensive and sustainable industrialization in our region and upgrading infrastructure by the recent COMESA summit that was held in Addis Ababa in March and also by the extraordinary summit of SADC that was held in Zimbabwe last month.

I would like also to assert Egypt’s keenness on supporting all African Union initiatives and regional projects that are aimed at upgrading e infrastructure in our continent and establishing a network of roads within the framework of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). This program is meant to achieve cooperation among the African countries for improving the deteriorating condition of infrastructure in the domains of energy and transportation along with water resources management and telecommunication. The program is also aimed at providing the required funds for achieving development in the various sectors to attain sustainable development in Africa.

Egypt and Sudan have launched last month the Qastal/Ashkeet land road linking the two countries. Works are underway for establishing another border crossing linking Egypt with Sudan in Arqin. The project comes within the framework of a land road linking Cairo with Cape Town, which I hope would be inaugurated shortly.

I would not miss the opportunity also to assert that Egypt is exerting strenuous efforts for completing its commitment towards sponsoring the maritime line project linking Lake Victoria with the Mediterranean within the framework of NEPAD projects. Egypt has hosted over the past few days a technical meeting of the presidential initiative for upgrading infrastructure. Egypt has presented the meeting with a technical review of feasibility studies for this giant regional project.

Egypt is also implementing nowadays mega national projects for upgrading its infrastructure. The project of the New Suez Canal is about to be completed with a view to facilitating regional and international trade. The project will constitute a great added value for the middle and southern African province in particular and our African continent in general. Therefore, I would like to invite you all to attend the inauguration ceremony of the New Suez Canal in August this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, honourable guests

Egypt will spare no effort for transferring its expertise to its African brothers in line with its policy it has adopted since its support for African national independence movements and its rejection of political and economic exploitation of the will of the African peoples. Our fate is one and we have joint goals to achieve. The benefit and good of Egypt will also reflect on all Africa. Any progress or success by any African country will also reflect on Egypt. Joint experiences since the late 50s and early 60s and until now have proven this established fact in all political, economic, social and cultural domains.

Allow me at this point to assert Egypt’s keenness to extend all its potentials and experiences as part of these efforts that will not only serve our national interests but will also serve the goals and interests of the peoples of all African countries. Egypt has provided over the past years its experts in all technical fields through the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa. This role is being maintained through the Egyptian Agency for Development Partnership which I announced its launch in June 2014 at the African Union Summit in Malabo in an effort to contribute to building African cadres.

Ladies and gentlemen

All moves by the African countries are meant to ensure a better future for the coming generations and create more appropriate jobs in a bid to solve our problems atop of which comes the unemployment. This requires the will for improving industrial development and attracting more investments that will actually create more jobs and guarantee the sustainability of our joint efforts in the visible and far future.

I would not miss the opportunity in this regard to underline the importance of the role of African women as a basic partner in all efforts that are aimed at achieving sustainable development and guaranteeing the hoped-for transition in the African continent. While announcing 2015 the year of women empowerment and development for achieving the agenda of 2063 and within the African Union framework, I assert that empowering women, and especially the poor women and breadwinners and enhancing their role in the society at the economic and political level along with upgrading their status in general will be a decisive element in ending poverty and enhancing their contribution to the development process.

Your excellency heads of state and government

Honorable guests

The great human and economic potentials which our region enjoys, including population of 625 million people and national product hitting more than half of the total African national product, qualifies us to achieve all forms of the hoped-for development.

You would agree with me that undermining peace and stability in the region will hamper our economic and development efforts as both domains are interactive and interrelated. Without peace and security no economic progress or prosperity for our peoples will be achieved. Also, without economic and social stability and meeting the development demands of our peoples no security or stability will be achieved in our region.

Out of this logic, we renew our commitment to exert all efforts at the level of the continent and our African Union and at the semi-regional and national levels through encouraging all regional initiatives and arrangements of regional African groupings that are aimed at activating the structure and set-up of peace and security of the African Union.

In conclusion, I would like to convey the greetings of the Egyptian people to you all. I invite you to seize this opportunity of visiting Sharm El Sheikh to get acquainted with the progress and development the city has achieved in all fields and to enjoy its marvellous natural and tourist sites.

With the grace of Allah and thanks to your participation, Africa will move ahead for more progress, prosperity, peace and joint cooperation.

Long Live Egypt… Long Live Egypt… and Long Live Nations and Peoples of Africa.

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