The African Union (AU) Commission for Trade and Industry is pushing for the timely conclusion of negotiations on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) among AU member States.

African nations are working on CETA negotiations which are expected to be concluded by 2017 and which is seen as vital for creating a global trade configuration in Africa, says the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Fatima Haram.

”Africa must prove to itself and the whole world that it can agree internally on solutions towards its own development,” she said in an interview with the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) here Thursday.

“We must strive to deliver CFTA by 2017, as well as the rules of procedures that we will be considering and adopting.”

Fatima advised African nations to show commitment in realizing a successful negotiation of the CFTA. ”It is important that we approach the negotiations in a collegial and constructive manner as opposed to an adversarial antagonistic manner,” she emphasized.

Although it may be difficult for 54 nations to negotiate a continental free trade agreement, she said that steadfast commitment, the right spirit, and hard work and persistence, Africans would be able to achieve it.

Annascy Mwanyangapo, a Namibian Trade and Commerce Ministry Deputy Permanent Secretary and director of the CFTA meeting at the AU, told the ENA that African countries should prioritize adopting the CFTA to enhance and meet Agenda 2063, the AU’s 50-year framework for Africa’s advancement. The CFTA framework needs better commitment and co-operation to be achieved, she added.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), intra-African trade currently stands at 12 per cent of the continent’s total trade, compared with 60 per cent for Europe, 40 per cent for North America, and 30 per cent for the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Source: ENA