, EGYPT, Jun 11 – Kenya has offered to host the secretariat of three continental bodies that signed a pact to work towards a free trade area.
COMESA-EAC-SADC member countries signed a new trade pact that will create a common market for more than 630 million people.
The pact allows free movement of people, goods and services among member states.
While saluting countries for agreeing to work towards a free trade area, Deputy President William Ruto said Kenya was willing to host the new offices of the regional bodies.
“The agreement will ensure establishment of mechanisms for expansion and competition for free trade,” he said.
He said it was a great opportunity for the young people to make use of the tremendous economic development taking place in the continent to engage in business among other development projects, which could uplift their living standards.
“The tripartite free trade area will give an opportunity for people in the 26 member countries to move freely and exploit existing trading opportunities in each of the countries,” said Ruto.
Speaking during the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite meeting held at the Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, the Deputy President said the establishment of the TFTA will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market.
He noted that the move would also eliminate barriers in the customs department besides expanding markets to facilitate easier movement of goods and services among the member countries.
“This agreement will lead to the improvement of infrastructure in the member countries and facilitate easier movement of goods and services,” he added.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) represents an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 632 million people, which is 57 percent of Africa’s population.
The Deputy President said Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan through the LAPSSET program have already embarked on construction of railway line aimed at improving the movement of goods and people within the region.
He also said Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan are constructing a railway line that will serve the countries.
“It is these kinds of development projects that will allow people looking for opportunities move to different countries and exploit existing business opportunities freely,” he said.
He said this will lead to creation of more job opportunities, value addition, increase manufacturing and industrialisation.
He added: “It would also increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and encourage regional infrastructure development as well as pioneer the integration of the African continent.”