African nations sign agreement to unify main trade blocs, but the question is will it work?

June 17, 2015 On the 11th of June in Egypt, representatives from 25 African nations signed an initial agreement known as the Tripartite Free Trade Area to create a free-trade zone linking three economic blocs that would unite 57 percent of the continent’s population.

The deal aims to merge the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the South African Development Community, and the East African Community. It will ease the free movement of goods across member countries, reducing trade barriers that will in turn bring down prices and boost economic activity between African countries.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the signing said, “We are trying to put a set date plan to execute all points of the agreement. What we accomplished today will remain in our minds as a historic day and a decisive point to continue our hopes and ambitions of becoming regionally merged,”

This laudable project have analysts skeptical about its success however, as it will require negotiations and ratification by national parliaments, and because of the exclusion of Nigeria, which already has 35 percent of Africa’s GDP. Other factors such as language barriers, and poor infrastructure have also come up. These analysts rather recommend strengthening the smaller regional trade blocs already in existence, before adopting larger agreements which present far more challenging issues.

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