Africa free trade area inches closer


Published on
18.03.2018 à 15h21
by
APA News

The leaders of Africa’s 55 countries will converge on Kigali, Rwanda Tuesday to sign a landmark agreement that will launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), according to the African Union.The Free Trade Area is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 and aims to deepen the integration process.

It is being driven forward along with other key related initiatives such as the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport.

According to an AU statement on Saturday, the launch will be convened by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The new Chairperson of AU Moussa Faki has been quoted as saying the agreement will be a historic pact which has been nearly 40 years in the making, and represents a major advance for African integration and unity.

Faki said the African Continental Free Trade Area will also strengthen Africa’s position in global trade.

“AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other international economic blocs”, the statement said.

The AfCFTA agreement would make the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

A day before the signing, government delegations would join Africa’s top business leaders and other stakeholders to exchange views on the continent’s economic transformation through trade at a special day of celebration and dialogue called the AfCFTA Business Summit, it was learned.

However, the success of the AfCFTA will depend on closer collaboration between policy makers and the private sector, President Kagame added.

The agreement is a flagship project of Agenda 2063, the African Union’s long-term vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa as the Free Trade Area has the potential to transform the fortunes of millions of Africans by boosting trading ties between Africa’s nations.

Intra-Africa trade stands at about 16 percent, compared with 19 percent intra-regional trade in Latin America, 51 percent in Asia, 54 percent in North America and 70 percent in Europe.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-Africa trade by 53 percent by eliminating import duties and non-tariff barriers.



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