Global Insider: Africa’s Grand Free Trade Area

African leaders recently agreed to take the first steps toward integrating three existing African trade blocs, which would create a 26-member trade group stretching from Egypt to South Africa. In an email interview, Peter Draper, a senior research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, discussed the proposed Grand Free Trade Area.

WPR: What is the driving force behind combining Africa's regional trade blocs into a broader African free trade bloc?

Peter Draper: There is no single driving force; rather, at least three separate motivations can be identified. At the level of high politics, the ideal of creating a single African Economic Community, as part of the broader goal of African unity, provides the glue. Within Southern and Eastern Africa, a more specific driver is the problem of countries belonging to two or more regional groupings and the consequent need to rationalize the groupings. For example, Swaziland is a member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). A third consideration, which plays out differently in different countries, is the desire to free up trade in the interests of greater economic integration, faster economic growth and development.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.