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Ethiopia among others reject AU decision on African CFTA

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Ethiopia has rejected the decision taken at the 29th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly regarding implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), considering its effect on the country’s economy, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has said.The AU summit which ended Tuesday in Addis Ababa emphasized the need for member states to implement the first phase of the CFTA by the end of this year, through attending to the issue of tariff barriers.

Dessalegn told a press conference late Tuesday, after the conclusion of the summit, that seven countries including Ethiopia did not agree to fully opening their doors for the continental free trade area.

They want to open their doors step-by-step, as it requires readiness on the part of the countries concerned.

Ethiopia, Djibouti Rwanda and Sudan did not agree to the CFTA timeframe, as, confirmed by their officials in Addis Ababa, but countries with better development status insisted on the soonest implementation of the CFTA, which they said will boost the continent’s intra-Africa trade to 52 percent from the current 13 percent.

Ethiopia feels it needs to first create a conducive atmosphere, so that it is able to comply with the new situation, according to Dessalegn.

Ethiopia believes that it is proper to open its doors to the free market step-by-step, since its economy is not ready yet, he declared.

“We took a stand on sensitive issues that would bring negative impact on the country and the people, and we are happy that this stand of ours has been accepted by other countries.

“Our decision is to work together and trade with our fellow African countries in areas other than the sensitive issue. We are also happy that our difference was respected,” he added.

Some 86 percent of the expected 90 percent of African countries have agreed on implementation the continental free trade area as envisaged by the AU.

Niger President Issoufou Mahadou, in a briefing he also gave to journalists Tuesday on current progress regarding the CFTA process, said the negotiations will continue with the countries that rejected the implementation plan to put into effect the CFTA in 2018.

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