Over 400 delegates from the 54 African countries are in Rwanda discussing among other important development issues, the need to open a Free Trade Area on the continent which would merge markets for a coherent social-economic transformation.
The delegates will rotate in two different sessions in the numbers of 200 discussing important issues that would realize the existence of the CFTA.
The eleven day meeting that will end on February 17 is taking place at the Kigali Serena hotel where technical advice experts, leaders and consultants are discussing how the Free Trade Area can better address the need to merge together regional markets into one bigger lucrative market capable of transacting the continent’s products both within Africa and internationally.
Prudence Sebahizi, technical adviser of AU on continental free trade area, says that they are meeting for the first time to negotiate on the installation of the continental free trade area and at the end of this year after several meeting they have reach a working agreement.
“The meeting first is one of the biggest meeting with 400 delegates earning the country in tourism, secondly this meeting addresses Rwandans on the African agenda.”
Sebahizi notes that landlocked countries that meet costly demands to export their goods to international markets will find it much easier and conveniently less costing in terms of transportation of exports and consummate services and even cost of production by ratifying to the Free Trade Area.
“Countries like Rwanda will benefit by conveniently accessing international markets under the free trade area. There is plan to merge markets. Cost of transport to the coasts for export and the cost of production can be reduced by transacting in Africa which makes the goods competitive on the international markets.”
Rwanda has more interests on the free trade area.
The ideal to start up a Free Trade Area was a recommendation by presidents that wished that by end of this year there an agreement to fully implement it be signed.
“Some countries don’t ratify because they assess their capacities and decide cannot fit in the free trade area,” Sebahizi notes.
Other delegates at the convention called on countries to reach a compromise that will interpret the Free Trade Area in the AU agenda to reach the ultimate goal of one continent, one market.
“We really would like to be ambitious but can’t really achieve that on our first meeting. We have to be realistic and basically set our own objectives and structures so we can in the next meeting achieve them,” Commercial counselor Waleed El Zomor also the Chairperson of CTFA says.
He adds that may be they will have to deal with eight regional economic communities to make the negotiations much easier and render positive achievements.
Uwihirwe M. Jeanne