African trade is crippled for a reason and fine words will not change that

It links three regional economic communities and 26 countries from Cape to Cairo and brings together 700-million people in an area with a GDP of $1.4-trillion.

Launched in 2011 in SA and signed in 2015, it still does not have all of the member states on board and the initiative has drifted. It has been bogged down by outstanding negotiations on key issues such as rules of origin, dispute mechanisms and tariff phase-downs and has missed several deadlines for completion.

Some analysts say the tripartite plan is now being treated as the poor cousin of the continental initiative, particularly by the Francophone bloc in West Africa, a region that it excluded. Many other regional integration deadlines in Africa on customs unions, currency harmonisation and…

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