Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

All together now: Zuma launches free trade bloc

South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday launched Africa’s biggest free trade bloc aimed at enhancing cooperation between 26 nations to boost economies in the world’s poorest and underdeveloped continent.

“There is no single country that can prosper on its own,” Zuma said at the launch of the initiative that will see three sometimes overlapping trade blocs join to create a $875-billion market.

“The Free Trade Area will certainly help us accelerate regional integration efforts aimed at ensuring that African countries trade with each other on better terms,” he told African leaders attending the launch.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) will now work as a joint bloc.

The agreement will include about half the continent’s nations but economic disparities and political instability in countries such as Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Libya and Sudan are possible hurdles towards improved trade.

Inefficient bureaucracies, poor infrastructure, tariff barriers and weak supply chains are further challenges.

Meanwhile, an African development expert said weaker countries who fear being overwhelmed in the zone would eventually benefit.

Kennedy Mbekeani, an African Development Bank official, said in the short term there will be economic losers.

In the early days, Mbekeani said, some will want to establish tariff and other barriers. He said the barriers should be temporary, and while they were in place, countries should identify and strengthen manufacturing or service sectors where they might have a competitive advantage. – Reuters, AP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

How to game Twitter’s algorithm – and hoodwink journalists

It is possible to convince newsrooms looking for a topical story that something is news when it isn’t, to dangerous effect

We will do better, ANC president Ramaphosa says in corrective...

At the ANC’s manifesto launch, Cyril Ramaphosa promised to reduce unemployment, increase social security, and stamp out corruption in the party

Young and jobless? Apply for one of 287 000 education...

Education department urges young, jobless people to apply for teaching assistant vacancies

Officials implicated in arts council mismanagement will be brought to...

The National Arts Council vows that every cent from the sector’s Covid-19-relief programme will be disbursed to artists, after auditors uncover maladministration
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×