High expectations as 44 African nations sign Continental Free Trade agreement


Africa expects to have a win-win situation with its partners through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Chairman of the African Union (AU) and Rwandan President Paul Kagame said here on Wednesday.

The AfCFTA will broaden the existing partnership between Africa and its partners, said Kagame at a press conference after the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU on the AfCFTA.

With the continental free trade area, both Africa and its partners will have a much bigger market and benefit all, said the president.

“Until now, the African external partners, China and others, have good relations with Africa,” said President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou.

African and the external partners will be able to work together on the AfCTFA, said Issoufou, adding that Africa will be in a position to share the growth brought by the AfCFTA with external partners, in particular with China.

Forty-four African countries on Wednesday signed an agreement to establish the AfCFTA during the one-day extraordinary session.

The agreement will be submitted for ratification by state parties in accordance with their domestic laws.

The decision to form the AfCFTA was adopted in January 2012 during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU while AfCFTA negotiations were launched by the AU in 2015.

The AfCFTA is aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businesses and investments. This, according to the AU, will pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African Customs Union.

The AfCFTA could create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars, the AU said.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 53.2 percent by eliminating import duties.

Together with the signing of the agreement on the AfCFTA, 27 African countries also signed the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community on Wednesday.


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