Egypt on Sunday in Johannesburg signed on to the formation of the biggest free trade bloc in Africa’s history, during the second tripartite meeting involving the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) summit in South Africa.
The new bloc comprises the grouping of COMESA, SADC, and EAC states.
The free trade area will reach from Cairo to Cape Town, and from Madagascar to Angola, covering 26 African countries along the way.
Realising an Egyptian-South African initiative, with the aim of achieving economic integration for the sake of the continent’s peoples, the huge market covered by the free trade bloc will comprise roughly 590 million people.
The group’s total gross domestic product is expected to reach one trillion dollars by the year 2013, making for a bloc that naturally installs Africa in a higher position in the global trade business, and the map of the world’s economy.
Experts believe that even weaker countries who fear being overwhelmed in a huge free trade zone will eventually benefit in medium and long terms from this mammoth project.
Egypt had earlier on Sunday offered to host the third tripartite summit of the groups in 2013.
Egyptian Premier Essam Sharaf, who led his country’s delegation in the Johannesburg meeting, affirmed that post-revolution Egypt is keen on giving top priority to boosting relations with African countries in all political, economic, social and cultural domains.
He said Egypt would not back away from exerting any effort in the interest of the continent and its peoples