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EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICAN TRADE BLOCS CHIEFS TO MEET IN SWAZILAND THIS WEEK TO PLAN FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW REGIONAL FREE TRADE AREA.

Posted by African Press International on December 9, 2008

Reports Leo Odera Omolo

The three Chgief Executive Officers of the three African major trade blocs will be meeting in the Swaziland capital, Mbabane on December 12 to work out the roadmap for establishing a single Free Trade Area.

Establishing a common Free Trade Area was one of the key decisions reached by the tripartite Summit of the East African Community{EAC}, the Southern African Development Community{SADC} and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa{COMESA}, which was held in the Ugandan capita, Kampala in October this year.

He planned merger is expected to lead to the attainment of an African Economic Community with a population of over 527 million people and a combined GDP of USD 624 billion.

The tripartite summit resolved that the three region al economic communities should immediately start working towards a merger into single regional Economic CommunityWith the objective of fast tracking the attainment of the much larger trading bloc. Among the first steps taken to fast track integration was an order to the three regionalsecretariats to develop a roadmap within six months to the establishment of a Free Trade Areathat will facilitate the movement of business persons across the regions.

According to the 26 heads of states who met in Kampala, the Free Trade Area will pave the way for a single Customs Union thereby ending import taxes on goods originating from member states and non-tariff barriers to trade within the bigger region.

A Special Tripartite Council of Ministers was directed to meet within 12 months to consider the study report on the roadmap towards the Free Trade Area and determine the timeframe within which that should happen.

The Swaziland meeting this week, is the second since the Kampala tripartite meeting.

The first such a meeting was held in Nairobi in November. It discussed how best to implement

and to set up the Free Trade Area

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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