First meeting of Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum convenes

The inaugural meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) took place Wednesday in Addis Ababa at the African Union Commission (AUC) headquarters.

The Continental Free Trade Area was established last June during the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The target date for it to be completely operational is 2017.

The three-day meeting will see representatives from AUC member states discuss and likely approve the CFTA Negotiating Forum's rules of procedure.

“Why is this important? Because the whole world is watching and waiting," AUC Commissioner for Trade and Industry Fatima Haram Acyl said. "Africa must prove to itself and the whole world that it can agree internally on solutions toward its own development. We must strive to deliver the CFTA by 2017, and the Rules of Procedure that we will be considering and adopting in this session will be highly consequential in this regard.”

Acyl said the member states would have to keep momentum going with their efforts and energy, noting that Africa's cultural diversity was one of its strengths.

“With a collective spirit of 'Together as one Africa,' where disagreements are tolerated and differences of opinion are encouraged, we can and will prevail," she said. "With your commitment, the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) can and will become a reality."

As the development of the CFTA goes forward, the AUC will support member states with technical assistance and administrative backing.

Organizations in this story

African Union Commission Roosevelt St Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa

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