By Shaimaa Elise and Nehal Mounir
The conference in Johannesburg, set to be held in June, will discuss the completion of the negotiations that started in Egypt, Nader El-Rayah Awad, Secretary-General of COMESA in Sudan, said.
Awad told Daily News Egypt that a free trade area throughout Africa would not only include the 26 countries of the three economic blocs, but will be the core axis of the next African Union meeting.
The agreement aims to cancel the tariff in two-thirds of the African countries, Awad noted, represented in the three economic blocs. He added that there are some African states who are wary of the Sharm El-Sheikh Agreement, because some rely on customs for goods and services.
Awad emphasised that Egypt has played a significant role in doubling its exports to COMESA countries, and these agreements expanded to a comprehensive full agreement between those blocs.
“This agreement came after negotiations lasted four years after the third summit held in Johannesburg in 2011,” added Awad. “A month ago, two crossings were opened between Egypt and Sudan, to increase exports, imports and trade between Sudan and Egypt and the rest of the African countries in the region.”
Awad confirmed that these crossings serve the rest of Africa, where Egypt can transfer its exports to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. This is in addition to reducing the high costs of the transporting process and customs.
He noted that there are clauses within the free trade agreement that can provide for small industries, as well as industries in growing countries. Negotiations will be continued on outstanding issues, and the finer details of the agreement’s commitments, even after the announcement of a free trade area.