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June 7, 2011

By Stephen Timm

Cape Town- A grand free trade agreement among African states -under discussion next weekend- could boost intra-continental trade and investment.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for East African States (Comesa) are to meet in Pretoria on June 11 and 12 to discuss the idea of a tripartite free trade agreement (FTA) first mooted three years ago.

But, while South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, and some trade analysts believe such an agreement, along with work on several trade corridors in and around southern Africa, will boost trade and investment on the continent, some trade experts are of the opinion that Africa is not ready for such a deal.

“What the combined FTA will do, is it will create a larger regional market where we can operate in those 26 countries with a combined GDP (gross domestic product) of $833 billion and 530 million people,” said Davies this week. Read more