26 African counties from Cape Town to Cairo have agreed to create the continent’s largest free-trade zone. The deal was made in Egypt on Wednesday June 10, 2015, between the East African Community, Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa which will merge them into one united single zone. This agreement will cover a region with more than 626 million people and a gross domestic product of 1.2 trillion.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt was quoted as saying at the meeting that “what we are doing today represents a very important step in the history of the regional integration of Africa”.
The agreements still needs to ratified in all the countries included. The African Union is aiming to establish zone, known as the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017 order to promote long-term grown, jobs and investment.
The New York Times quoted Christopher Wood, an expert on economic diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs, as saying that “there’s been talk about the continental free trade agreement for many, many years, but it’s been more like a shibboleth that shows you’re committed to regional integration on the continent.” He continued, “it seems like that’s changing now.” “The African Union has established negotiating principles and some outcomes and a rough timeline that seems like the continental free-trade agreement is going to move from a vision to an actual plan.”