Angola left out of SADC free trade area

23 November 2006

Luanda, Angola, 23 Nov – Angola will be kept out of the free trade area of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), due to go into operation in 2008, as the country does not fulfil the conditions to join, the Angolan Minister for Planning, Ana Dias Lourenço, said Wednesday.

“Integration would be a threat or an opportunity, so we have to analyze the measures we plan to take so that we can be a part of the free trade area and benefit from that process in a balanced manner, allowing for the competitive development of the Angolan economy,” the minister said.

Lourenço, who was speaking Tuesday at the Parliamentary Commission for Economy and Finance, during the discussion of the state budget for 2007 and the Government Program for 2007/2008, said that the Angolan economy had not yet reached a level of development that would allow it to be part of the SADC free trade area.

The SADC plans to set up, from 2008, a free trade area following a commercial protocol signed at the Head of State and Government Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia in 2000.

The SADC represents a market of around 200 million people, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$180 billion.

Creating a free trade area aims to ease the circulation of goods and services between member states, which will boost commercial relations within the region.

Reducing import taxes and pulling down customs barriers will also make it possible to encourage the process of economic integration of the 14 member countries of the SADC.

The SADC was set up in 1980 and currently has Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its members. (macauhub)