The long anticipated Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) project is expected to set off next year, a top African Union Commission (AU) said..

Fatima Acyl, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry said that CFTA projects has secured 20 million U.S. dollars funding for the initial plans that comprises of trade in goods, trade in services, investment and intellectual property.

"The trade in goods is expected to include tariff liberalization, rules of origin, dispute resolution, trade facilitation and customs procedures," Acyl told Xinhua in an interview at the ongoing 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

She said that the AU is currently developing a capacity building plan in accordance with the needs expressed by member states before rolling out activities.

Out of the amount secured so far from development partners, AU member states have contributed 3 million U.S. dollars for 2016 and 4.9 million U.S. dollars for the year 2017.

She attributed trade and industry as the catalyst for Africa's development adding that once the CFTA comes into force there will be increased competitiveness in industrial products through the harnessing of the potential of economies in a broader continental market.

Acyl noted that the initiative will also help increase the rate of diversification and transformation of Africa's economy, better allocation of resources, reduced price amongst the countries and reduced vulnerability of Africa to external trade shocks.

She said that besides introducing Africa's electronic passport, so far 10 countries avail visas to their citizens on arrival while others are in the process of doing the same in a bid to help popularize free movement of citizens.

"The transformation is geared at integrating Africa with the involvement of its citizens in engagement with the international community," Dr. Anthony Maruping, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs said.

He said that through regional integration the continent is expected to integrate regional markets with efficient infrastructure to attract investment and enhance access to improved quality goods and services.

Maruping noted that the East African Community (EAC) has so far succeeded by abolishing phone roaming tariffs while other regional bodies are also in the process of making separate achievements.

Source: Nam News Network

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