Maputo, Mozambique, 27 Aug – The free trade agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries shall only be put in place in August 2008, the Mozambican minister for Trade and Industry, António Fernando, said Friday in Maputo.
The delay – the initial date was January 1, 2008 – was decided by the heads of state and government of the SADC during the last summit in Lusaka, Zambia, after analyzing several reports on the Community’s capacity to implement the Free Trade Area.
“Of the 12 SADC countries that will be part of the area from August 2008, some are 75 percent ready, other are 80 percent, and other much less. And only South Africa, Africa’s largest economy, is 100 percent prepared,” the minister said.
Although the SADC is made up of 14 member-states, only 12 will be part of the free trade area, as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have asked for more time to prepare.
“We think that by August 2008 all the conditions will be set up for the Free Trade Area to be launched,” Fernando said.
Joining the free trade area requires states to suppress customs duties on 85 percent of their imports, mainly consumer goods.
According to the established schedule, after the Free Trade Area is created, in 2010 a customs union will be adopted.
A common market is scheduled to be created on January 1, 2015, and in 2016, a common central bank will be set up.
The conclusion of this decisive phase of the regional integration process is set for 2018 with the introduction of a single currency for SADC member states. (macauhub)