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African countries asked to embrace international trade

By Joe Ombuor | Published Thu, May 28th 2015 at 00:00, Updated May 27th 2015 at 21:22 GMT +3

NAIROBI: African countries have been urged to pursue policies aimed at fast-tracking integration of the continent into a global economy.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said it was time for Africa to pursue an economic integration agenda that would ensure the continent is at the centre of global economic growth.

“Countries should seek new partnerships and take advantage of emerging markets and opportunities and lower trade barriers to leverage trade for sustainable development,” she said. Africa, she added, should expedite the process of building a Free Trade Area (FTA) currently at embryonic stage.

Mohamed said Heads of State are ready to initiate the negotiation process when they meet in South Africa in June for the forthcoming summit, a move she noted would demonstrate a high level political commitment by the African leaders that time is ripe for Africa to pursue its economic agenda and integrate fully into the global trading system as a focused entity.

“Such partnerships are in a category of their own by dint of their scope and their impact are most likely to create a symmetry in a global trade area,” she said at the opening session of the conference on mega trading blocks and the future of African trade at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.

She said it was crucial to interrogate potential impact of mega–regionals with a view to formulate requisite response on how such agreements are likely to affect all involved.

Mohamed said African economies need to urgently deepen domestic economic reforms, diversify markets and risk, build economies of scale, enhance competiveness, pursue export-led growth, and build global supply chains.

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She said time for Africa to become a global standard maker was finally here to ensure the multilateral trade system was based on the criteria set in Africa.;

“It is expected that an African wide Continental (CFTA) will become operational by 2017,” she added. “We need to strengthen the role and maintain the centrality of WTO in the trading system and not allow that role to be diluted,” she said.

FREE TRADE

She said Africans ought to build the dynamism, confidence and boldness that the noble idea and vision of free trade in Africa is now. “I know we can do it because our history has prepared us well,” she emphasised.

The CS said Africa now stands at monumental place with an opportunity that must not be missed, to make a significant impact and make her voice loud enough to be heard through the integration process.

She said Africa needed to invest in industrial and infrastructural development because transformation will be key to increasing the continent’s competitiveness globally.

Mohamed said, quoting the Wold Bank that Africa requires close to $95 million annually sustained for the next 10 years to transform its infrastructure.


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