FILE - Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry FILE - Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry

Egypt seeks to activate free trade agreement with Africa: FM

Mon, Dec. 10, 2018
CAIRO – 10 December 2018: Egypt seeks to put the African Continental Free trade Area agreement into force during its presidency of the African Union in 2019 to develop trade exchange among African countries and increase investment opportunities, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday.

In his speech at the 2018 African Union, Shoukry remarked that African countries should exert efforts to support investments in Africa and set reform programs paving the way for such investments.

Shoukry added that Egypt will host a meeting with African commercial ministries to tackle the problems that impede activating the agreement.

He pointed out that investments should achieve the sustainable development goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063, which aims for a peaceful, integrated and prosperous continent by 2063.

He further explained that it is necessary to ensure stability in Africa and combat terrorist organizations hindering the continent's development to attract more investments.

On March 21, Egypt joined 43 other African countries in signing the African Continental Free trade Area (CFTA) agreement in Kigali.

The agreement aims to ease the trade exchange between the countries that signed it according to a scheduled timeline and not through an immediate activation of the agreement. In addition, it will remove barriers and tariffs among the African countries, bringing together 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion.

This will lead to the establishment of the African Customs Union and the application of a unified tariff to the African countries' imports from outside the continent.

CFTA is considered the biggest deal ever signed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established as it was signed by 43 countries.

It has been set to include all 55 member states of the African Union, but Nigeria and Uganda pulled out from the Kigali summit at the last minute. Nigeria said it needs more time to review the terms.

With a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion, the agreement opens the door of surging the amount of imports and exports.

Egypt can double its exports to African countries through this agreement as Egypt’s exports to African countries are currently worth about $4 billion.

Domestic trade in Africa reached 20 percent , with expectations to be accelerated by activating the agreement.

Additional report by Hanan Mohamed
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