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African Union Leaders Set to Meet to Review Free Trade

by Oyinlola Isiaka on July 2, 2018

Featured Image via Flickr/ AMISOM Public Information

The African Union plans to meet at a summit in Mauritania to discuss free trade, tackling corruption and dealing with humanitarian and security crises in the continent. The summit will take place in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital. The theme of the summit has been settled on by the nations: Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.

The summit will address the issues such as South Sudan’s peace and reconciliation process, reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the upcoming elections of Cameroon, Mali, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The summit will be expecting some surprising guest like the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who will pushing for a security initiative in Sahel. There will also be some absent attendees like Joseph Kabila, the former DRC president who was deemed constitutionally illegible for elections.

The biggest priority on the AU’s agenda is free trade deal. Paul Kagme, who holds both the presidency of the African Union and Rwanda, will call to promote free trade. Earlier this year, 44 out of 55 AU member states signed an agreement in Kigali (capital of Rwanda) to implement and designate a region as a massive trade area. Through this trade area, the member states strive to improve regional integration and economic growth across the continent. Currently, only about 16 percent of intra business relations is conducted within the continent. Thus, through the agreement, will encourage countries to remove tariffs on 90 percent of their goods. Additionally, the agreement will free up trade in services and increase the free movement of people. If success, it will create a bloc with approximately $2.5 trillion and cover 1.2 billion people on the conditionality that all 55 member states sign the agreement. However, two of the major powers of the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, are yet to sign the agreement.

Finally, the summit will tackle corruption, specifically in future elections and government institutions. This is an important objective because, according to the AU, the continent experiences a $148 billion loss a year to corruption. This is about 25 percent of Africa’s average GDP. Many African nations believe fighting corruption will lead to economic growth and development. According to Transparency International’s latest reports in its Corruption Perceptions Index, “the key ingredient that the top performing African countries have in common is political leadership that is consistently committed to anti-corruption. While the majority of countries already have anti-corruption laws and institutions in place, these leading countries go an extra step to ensure implementation.”

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