23 Oct 2008

African free trade zone agreed

6:11 am on 23 October 2008

The leaders of three African trading blocs agreed on Wednesday to create a free trade zone of 26 countries with a GDP of an estimated $624 billion.

The BBC reports they hope the deal will ease access to markets within the region and end problems arising from the fact several countries belong to multiple groups.

The deal also aims to strengthen the bloc's bargaining power when negotiating international deals.

Analysts say the agreement will help intra-regional trade and boost growth.

The three blocs involved are the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community and the the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.