His Excellency Dr. Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia and Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) participated on 7-8 July 2019 in the 12th Extraordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly and in the inaugural Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities (RECs). President Geingob delivered a statement in his capacity as Chairperson of SADC during the First Midyear Coordination Meeting of the African Union and Regional Economic Communities.
The Statement by the Chair of SADC to the inaugural meeting highlighted the achievements made by member states towards regional integration, which include the establishment in 2008 of the SADC Free-Trade Area (FTA), increasing trade in the region from 16% to 22%. President Geingob informed that SADC had made significant strides in the development of roads and ports that further facilitates trade and promotes economic growth in the region. Applauding the inaugural meeting, President Geingob said:
“This AU-REC Coordination Meeting, therefore, allows us to take a critical look at the progress made in implementing and meeting the objectives of our integration agenda, and provides us with a unique opportunity to take stock of our synergies with the AU Agenda and programmes. I am confident that we will learn from each other, and be able to chart our way forward in positioning ourselves to meet the Continental Agenda.”
The 12th Extraordinary Session served as the formal launch of the entry into force of the African Continental Free-Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 30 May 2019. To date twenty-seven (27) countries have ratified the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA, and fifty-four (54) have signed it. Trading between African countries under the AfCFTA will commence on 1 July 2020, while the Phase Two of the AfCFTA Negotiations on Investment Policy, Competition Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights are set to be concluded in December 2020.