On Monday, October 23rd, South Africa will host a regional economic summit. The theme is ?Economic Integration of SADC,? the Southern African Development Community.  It?s expected that all SADC heads of state will attend.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story.  From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

?The importance of the meeting is that they are hoping to iron out issues of common market related trade matters for the region. They are trying to establish, I suppose you could call, a mini economic European Union in southern Africa, whereby countries within the region will be able to trade freely with each other. They?ll be able to import goods without having import duties applied them?and it is important because there has been a lot of resentment in the region because South Africa currently has customs agreements with some of the countries, but not all of them.?

The SADC meeting will, therefore, have a diplomatic component. Robertson says, ?it?s certainly economic, but I think it?s also important on the diplomatic front that these issues get ironed out because they have been a sticking point in some cases in the past on some occasions in so far as relations between South Africa and some of the countries in the region.?

The summit will focus on implementation of the FTA, or Free Trade Area, which is planned to begin in 2008.