Maghreb Arab Press

HM the King: Launch of African Continental Free Trade Area Is Critical Step Towards Achievement of Multifaceted Development in Africa

Kigali  -  
The launching, today, of the African Continental Free Trade Area is a critical step towards the achievement of multifaceted development in Africa, said HM King Mohammed VI, underlining that the AfCFTA is "an initiative by Africa, for Africa."
HM the King: Launch of African Continental Free Trade Area Is Critical Step Towards Achievement of Multifaceted Development in Africa
21 March 2018

In a speech to the Extraordinary Summit of heads of state and government of the African Union on the Continental Free Trade Area, held in the Rwandan capital, the sovereign said that "the creation of the largest free trade area in the world, with the youngest population on the planet, is a landmark event which attests to our shared determination to build an Africa for the future."

"This initiative expands and builds on the countless measures taken by our respective countries to promote intra-African trade. It will boost investment, stimulate economic growth, enhance continental interconnectivity and inject fresh momentum into African integration," HM the King stressed.

This is a pragmatic step towards an integrated, prosperous Africa which is attuned to international realities, the sovereign noted.

Recalling that 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa and the 1991 Abuja Treaty established Regional Economic Communities which have served as the bedrock of African integration, HM the King underscored that "today, the path towards the actual establishment of a continental free trade area is virtually mapped out thanks to the undeniable progress achieved in this area by those Communities, some of which are already considering customs union protocols."

The monarch said that, "in Morocco, experience has taught us that the open market economy and the establishment of free trade areas, with partners from the North and the South alike, often give rise to legitimate concerns and create certain challenges which must be tackled through appropriate mechanisms."

Once those concerns and challenges are addressed, it becomes clear that economic openness has many benefits and translates into gains for the national economy, contributing to the emergence of new value chains, HM the King added, considering that impeding such a dynamic, at continental level, would delay Africa's rise and hamper its competitiveness and development.

The sovereign affirmed that Morocco believes in a kind of co-development which is based on intra-African cooperation, economic complementarity, active solidarity and the pooling of resources and efforts.

"These are prerequisites for any inclusive growth and for sustainable human development on the Continent," HM the King insisted, noting that the goal, ultimately, is to transform Africa into a dynamic force and to make it a major player on the international scene for the benefit of our populations.

"To promote progress in Africa and boost intra-African trade, we need to build on the technological development the world has witnessed and to turn our intra-African trade deficit into opportunities for the development of new digital technologies," the sovereign underscored, adding that, "spurred on by young people's ingenuity, creativity and audacity, digital technology is changing the face of our Continent."

"This digital quantum leap to young startups operating in the fields of finance, telecommunications, industry and agribusiness, to name but a few. Often, those behind this innovative process are young people from low-income segments of the population. Our young people ought, therefore, to take center stage in our public policies," HM the King said.

His Majesty noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area is a key instrument for the promotion of this new economic development paradigm centered on innovation, diversification and exchange rooted in solidarity.

"The upcoming free trade area is no longer a fantasy or a mere project," HM the King pointed out, saying that the results achieved were arrived at in a spirit of compromise; not only are they balanced, but they also reflect the expectations and concerns of all parties.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and dynamism which characterized the rounds of negotiation, we have been able to consider free trade in 90 per cent of goods, the sovereign underlined, saying that, through this initial tangible achievement, all the States involved are showing their desire to work towards an opening up and expansion of markets, while making sure the particularities of domestic economies are respected, especially the protection of infant industries and the economic activities involving vulnerable populations.

"We need to build on that same spirit when conducting future negotiations on equally important issues, such as those relating to fair competition, compliance with intellectual property rules and the promotion of investment," the sovereign insisted.

"To shape the Africa of the future - one that takes back its destiny into its own hands - we have had to go through countless stages and, to be sure, many others still lie ahead. We must see the whole process through in order to make sure that our economic development no longer hinges, in any way, on external players or considerations," HM the King concluded.

Last modified : 21 March 2018

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