An official with the African Union (AU) says heads of state and government will make a decision today (Monday) on expediting an agreement to enhance commerce and trade among African countries.
“[Leaders] are going to make specific decisions on the specific areas that will hasten intra-African trade,” said AU adviser Keizire Boaz. “It looks very likely that they will really want to unblock some of the binding constraints in each of the countries. [They want] each member state …to allow it’s very strong roads and rail infrastructure to connect to the other [in order] to have a bigger connection.”
The two-day African Union summit of heads of state and government officially ends Monday in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Boaz says the African leaders are committed to the objective of this year’s summit, which is finding ways to promote intra-African trade on a continental level.
He says the leaders discussed using sub-regional blocs as a catalyst to promoting trade and commerce in Africa.
“Another very key decision they will be making today is to ensure that they fast track the East Africa [Community], the COMESA [The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] and the SADC [Southern African Development Community] tripartite agreement,” continued Boaz. “[It’s] a combination of three regional economic communities to demonstrate …that you can open a free trade agreement within that particular community to be able to move on a bigger picture of the continent.”
The African leaders expressed concerns about making trading among African countries as easy as trading with Europe or China. The leaders agree measures must be put in place to remove challenges to trade between and among African states.
“They were almost coming to the same agreement that they need to unblock those constraints at the regional level. They have re-affirmed their efforts to strengthen their regional economic communities to be able to have a bigger trading partner,” said Boaz.
Some observers say they expected to hear more about the extent to which the leaders will go to implement measures and institutional mechanisms to surmount the constraints to greater trade. Boaz expressed hope the commitment shows by the heads of state will translate into putting in measures to enhance trade on the continent.
“They realized that to have a much stronger trading community they would need to create a heads of state committee of around six heads of state to agree towards leading to a bigger decision to transform the continent into a trading bloc. So, it’s a big commitment and we expect them to abide by this commitment,” said Boaz.