UNECA hails Nigeria’s ratification of AfCFTA deal as “strong signal” of integration

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - APRIL 10: Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) makes a speech during a commemoration ceremony for the 21 UN employees, who lost their lives in the plane crash in Ethiopia on March 10, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) during a past event. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Thursday welcomed Nigeria’s ratification of its membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Last week, Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) ratified the country’s membership of the AfCFTA less than a month before the December 5 deadline.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the ECA, said the move by the continent’s largest economy and most populous nation was a serious indicator about Africa’s desire to strengthen intra-African trade.

“This sends a strong signal that the African continent is serious about regional integration and lays a robust foundation for successful implementation of the AfCFTA,” Songwe said.

Nigeria was the latest country to ratify membership of the free trade agreement. The agreement has so far been ratified by at least 30 African Union member states.

According to the ECA, the AfCFTA is, by the number of participating countries, the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Its implementation will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc with 1.3 billion people across the continent and is expected to probably double intra-Africa trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalization.

The first commercial deal under the AfCFTA is expected to take place on January 1, 2021.

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