Free trade area welcome in Africa

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THE proposed establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community is set to boost Zimbabwe’s prospects for economic development since it has one of the finest infrastructures in Africa, delegates who attended the Second Comesa-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit in Sandton said this week. This was revealed in their communiqué which was released at the end of the summit in Sandton on Sunday. Zimbabwe took part at the summit, which was also attended by President Robert Mugabe and his delegation. The communiqué noted the progress made in the implementation of the Tripartite Infrastructure Programmes and commended cooperating partners which include Zimbabwe for the support they pledged to the North-South Corridor at the High Level Conference that was held in Zambia in 2009. “In the area of infrastructure development, the Tripartite Summit noted the progress made in the implementation of the tripartite infrastructure programmes,” the communiqué said. “The Tripartite commended the international cooperating partners which include Zimbabwe for the support they pledged at the North-South Corridor at the High Level Conference held in 2009 in Zambia. “Zimbabwe’s well developed infrastructure makes it a suitable candidate for massive economic development through the proposed establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area by COMESA, EAC and SADC.” The Comesa-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit also launched negotiations for the establishment of an integrated market of 26 countries that have a combined population of 600 million people and a total Gross Domestic Product of US$1 trillion. According to the summit, the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area will boost intraregional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, among other issues. This is because the Comesa- EAC-SADC region makes up half of the total African Union in terms of membership and 58 percent of the continent’s total Gross Domestic Product every year. “The Tripartite launched negotiations for the establishment of an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of nearly 600 million people and a total GDP of over US$1 trillion,” the communiqué noted. “The establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Area will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and develop cross-regional infrastructure.”

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