Pressure Mounts on Other African Countries to Sign Continental Free Trade Agreement

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A number of nations are under fire for failing to sign a treaty known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The high profile pact does not come into effect until 22 of the signing countries ratify the agreement.

As of December 2018, only 15 African countries had backed the agreement, with Togo having signed the deal this past December. Now, pressure is mounting for at least 7 more nations to do the same as the year 2019 begins in earnest.

AfCFTA is a planned free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 49 of the 55 African Union nations. If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

The African Continental Free Trade Area Togo signed the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda at an extraordinary summit for African Union Heads of State.

Prior to Togo’s backing of the agreement, Uganda joined the ranks of Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger and Chad in ratifying the deal. Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said earlier last month that he is hopeful other countries will follow suit.

According to Niger’s President, Mahamadou Issoufou, the agreement seeks to create a single market that spans from Algiers to Cape Town, and Praia to Djibouti.

Meanwhile, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) Coordinator, Mr. David Luke recently announced that Africa is set for massive transformation as more countries are expected to sign-up and ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in 2019.

Luke explained that implementation was key to the AfCFTA’s success once it is ratified by enough countries. At least 22 countries should ratify the historic agreement for it to go into force.

“Getting the AfCFTA right will depend on getting the level of ambition that we have as a continent,” he said.

The ECA recently carried out an assessment of the AfCFTA modalities on goods to support the process as more countries are expected to sign and ratify the agreement in 2019.

“The findings demonstrate that a double qualification approach to liberalize trade in goods under the AfCFTA would generate larger trade-related benefits for African countries than a tariff line approach,” Luke added.

It has emerged that liberalizing trade in goods within Africa using this approach will support Africa’s industrialization process, create thousands of employment opportunities and boost economic growth across the continent.

Mahamat hopes that other African nations will support the agreement and has expressed confidence that 2019 will be a year of positive development for Africa.


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