Towards a Free Trade Agreement between Africa and the European Union
“Today, Africa is proactive. It has taken its faith in its own hands, it is achieving this by creating the Africa single market (the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement). The African Union has found a new drive, and I think that this is excellent news.” Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE Group) during his opening speech at the 14th Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Pacific Africa Caribbean (ALDEPAC) Conference with liberal members from 30 African countries and members of the European parliament. The event was themed “Towards a Free Trade Agreement between Africa and the European Union.”
The discussions offered the delegates the opportunity to review and unpack the relevance of existing economic partnership agreements between certain countries in Africa and those with the European Union (EU), the dream of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the future of regional integration. ALDEPAC welcomed the African Continental Free Trade Area, noting it as “a historical agreement aimed at paving the way for a liberalised market for goods and services across the continent, a first step towards the establishment of a Customs Union.” African States yet to sign the agreement were encouraged to do so as soon as possible.
Jean-Claude Juncker (the President of the European Commission) proposal for a new alliance with Africa to deepen economic relations and boost investments and jobs was also acknowledged and welcomed by the members. “This Continent-to-Continent free trade agreement could help to create up to 10 million new jobs in Africa. It could one day form one giant free-trade zone, a partnership between equals,” the members added. It was also noted that a single Euro-African economic area would have enormous potential: 1.5 billion consumers, 20 trillion in value, able to rival China.
The African MPs in attendance were from Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eswatini (Former Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra-Leone, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This year’s conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa on 1 - 3 March in collaboration with the Democratic Alliance and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. #FreeToAdvance