Grand Free Trade Area for next year – EAC boss

KIGALI - The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Juma Mwapachu has said that the establishment of a free trade bloc will by May next year be pronounced by Heads of State of the tripartite regional framework.
Juma Mwapachu (SG - EAC)
Juma Mwapachu (SG - EAC)

KIGALI - The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Juma Mwapachu has said that the establishment of a free trade bloc will by May next year be pronounced by Heads of State of the tripartite regional framework.

The efforts are a result of a tripartite summit held in Kampala last year, where Heads of State from the three regional blocs; EAC, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Southern African Development Community, (SADC) agreed on the expeditious establishment of a free trade bloc. 

“Our plan is that our political leaders should by May next year pronounce themselves on the establishment of the Grand Free Trade Area,” said Mwapachu, who is also the chairperson of the tripartite process.

The EAC boss made the remarks on Saturday at the official launch of the Chirundu One Stop Border post at the Zambia–Zimbabwe border.

Mwapachu added that all the member states of the three regional communities are currently reviewing concrete proposals which a task force led by the Chief Executive Officers of blocs have developed and tabled. 

“Within the framework of the tripartite arrangements, there have been resolute efforts taken, even prior to the establishment of the Grand Free Trade Area, to address our region’s transport and logistics deficits.” he said.

The EAC official observed that the regional arrangement was now, “path breaking in collapsing the artificial national borders created by colonialism and taking revolutionary strides towards unleashing a new economic integration momentum”.

The Kampala Summit directed the chairpersons of the Councils of Ministers in the three trading blocs to speed up the development of joint financial systems, capital markets and commodity exchanges.

It also directed them to ensure that their secretariats harmonise positions on Economic Partnership Agreements, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

It is anticipated that the three blocs will have a single airspace within a year and an inter-regional broadband network for internet.

The three communities also resolved to coordinate their master plans for regional transport and energy within 12 months.

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