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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat has challenged Africa leaders to remain committed to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) development.

“We should not lose sight of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area, which is a one of the major building blocks towards the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” said SADC Executive Secretary, Stergomena Lawrence Tax on Tuesday commemorating the inaugural Africa Integration Day 2020.

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area brings together 26 member states, covering a market of more than 700 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

Tax said the continent’s participation in the global value chain remains minimal, with its export basket dominated by primary commodities and natural resources, accounting for less than 3 percent of world trade.

“In addition, intra-African trade continues to trail other regions, which have drawn on vibrant cross-border trade to sustain growth and economic development, as well as integrate into the global economy,” she said.

Currently, intra-Africa trade accounts for 15 precent of its total trade volume, compared unfavorably to Europe’s 68 percent, North America’s 37 percent, and Latin America’s 20 percent.

Under the AfCFTA, intra-African trade is projected to rise to 52 percent by 2040, and Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.

“AfCFTA will also have a significant impact on manufacturing and industrial development, tourism, intra-African cooperation, and economic transformation. The significance of the AfCFTA, therefore, cannot be overemphasized.”she said. Enditem

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