Africa signs agreement for Africa Free Trade Zone

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The leaders of three African regional economic blocs signed an agreement to develop a free trade zone stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.

The so-called Grand Free Trade Area would encompasses 26 countries, 600 million people and have an estimated gross domestic product of about $1 trillion, according to a statement released after a conference in Johannesburg today.

“The establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Area will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and develop cross-regional infrastructure,” according to the statement.

The meeting was attended by leaders from the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African Community. It is their second since an initial summit in October 2008. They agreed to further negotiations, without publishing any timeframes.

South African President Jacob Zuma told a press conference that Africa needs to remove hurdles to the movement of goods across boundaries and that infrastructure development must lift intra-Africa trade “from the current low base of 10 percent.”

South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, is driving regional integration as it seeks to create a larger market for companies such as Shoprite Holdings Ltd. (SHP), Africa’s biggest retailer. Africa’s economy has grown an average of 5.7 percent each year over the past decade, according to the International Monetary Fund, fueling the expansion of a new middle class.

via African Trade Blocs Sign Agreement to Develop Continental Free Trade Zone – Bloomberg

South Africa to operate in Oman Free Zone

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PRETORIA — An agreement was signed at the Sultanate’s Embassy here to lease a plot of land at Sohar Free Zone to set up a food processing unit to exchange food products between the Sultanate and South Africa.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Khalid bin Sulaiman Ba’omar, Sultanate’s Ambassador to South Africa, representatives from Sohar Port at the free zone, Al Noor Company from the Sultanate, GWK company and Riospin company from South Africa.

The Sohar unit will import fresh food from South Africa, including meat, fish, diary products, fruit and vegetables.

The ambassador affirmed that such projects will develop and boost trade relations between the Sultanate and South Africa.

It will also increase the level of trade exchange, as Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market, which is supervising the project, will receive exports from the Sultanate to re-export them in South African markets.

Last month, during an official session of Oman-South Africa talks the bilateral co-operation between the two countries in tourism and means of promoting the joint co-operation between the Omani tourism companies and their South African counterparts to attract the European tourists heading for South Africa to spend some days in the Sultanate were discussed.

The two sides also discussed enhancing the economic and trade co-operation particularly in the investment field, as well as activating the MoUs and agreements signed between the two countries.

— ONA

via Sultanate, S Africa set up food unit | Oman Observer

Dubai free zone ready to be new Baku port operator

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Baku, Fineko/abc.az. The new Baku International Sea Trade Port, being built in Alat settlement 65 km south of Baku, can get quite a tough operator – the Dubai free zone.

Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov says that the Dubai free zone, which operates 30 ports around the world, has already offered its services for the launch of the new Baku port.

“Today, these companies cannot cooperate with Azerbaijan due to the absence of multimodal transportation,” the minister said.

He points out that work is underway currently within the first phase of the port construction, after which port capacity will reach 15 million tons a year. After all the three stages are finished, its capacity will be brought up to 25 million tons.

“The current port has become fully outdated and does not meet international standards and modern technologies. Besides, its capacity is only 5-10 million tons a year,” Mammadov said.

via Azerbaijan Business Center – Dubai free zone ready to be new Baku port operator