, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jun 15 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged African countries to reform trade policies at national, regional and continental levels to be in tandem with rules and regulations governing an enlarged free trade area.
He said strengthened trade facilitation will reduce the costs and time for movement of goods and people across borders.
“Let us also enhance and diversify production capacities in order to add value to Africa’s primary commodities and boost regional and continental value chains,” President Kenyatta said.
He was speaking during the launch of negotiations on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by African Union chair President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at Sandton International Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.
President Kenyatta called for promotion of trade-related infrastructure (transport, energy, ICT etc), improved access to financing and establishment of frameworks for viable continental payments systems through banking and export guarantee systems.
“CFTA means a lot to Africans. Jobs for the youth, peace and security, prosperity, self-reliance and meeting only to discuss our prosperity and not problems,” the President added.
The CFTA, covering all economic blocs, will aid intra-Africa trade and is envisaged the continent-wide free trade area by 2017 after more than a decade of plus-five percent a year growth on average in African economies.
“Pooling economies and markets together through regional integration will provide a sufficiently wide market space to make economies of scale possible for African industries and allow Africa to play its rightful role in the global market,” the President said.
President Kenyatta said CFTA will boost intra Africa trade besides promoting regional and continental integration.
It will also develop larger markets, foster greater competition which in turn will result in poverty reduction, growth and sustainable development, the President added.
“Kenya welcomes road map for achieving CFTA by 2017, with the underlying principle being to build upon the current levels of tariff liberalization amongst Regional Economic groupings and existing achievements of the RECs,” the President said.
Launching the negotiations, President Mugabe told African leaders to put mechanisms in place to remove barriers that may impede free trading between countries and economic blocs.
During the occasion, President Kenyatta was honoured for the efforts Kenya has made to champion women empowerment through strengthened institutional frameworks, budgetary allocations and the thirty per cent government contracts.