African Union Unveils Operational Phase of the Free Trade Zone

African Union Unveils Operational Phase of the Free Trade Zone

AU Commission Chairperson Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the Union Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Niger President Issoufou Mahamadou unveil the commemorative plaque marking the Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA I Courtesy

The African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, an agreement that removes trade tariffs in the African continent became operational on Sunday.

54 member states have agreed on the process to implement the accord.

The AfCFTA will be governed by five operational instruments: the Rules of Origin; the online negotiating forum; the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers; a digital payments system and the African Trade Observatory.

“The eyes of the world are turned to Africa,” Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said at the opening ceremony of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.

“AfCFTA will reinforce our negotiating position on the international stage. It will represent an important step,” he added.

“The speedy entry into force of the AfCFTA is a source of pride for all of us”, said AU Commission Chairperson Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The AfCFTA will be one of the largest free trade areas since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, given Africa’s current population of 1.2 billion people, which is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050.

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“But it is not enough merely for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to be operational and encompassing. It must also change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to economic development,” reads part of the ninth edition of the flagship Assessing Regional Integration in Africa report (ARIA IX) jointly published by the African Union Commission, Economic Commission for Africa, and African Development Bank are joined by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The report recommends that ratification of the AfCTA, which went into force on 30 May 2019, must be followed by effective implementation and that implementation will be more effective if national AfCFTA committees are created by country trade ministries.

On the other hand, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), pledged it’s full support to the African Union (AU) on the AfCFTA.

According to a statement issued by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Ms. Amina Mohammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General said the UN was ready to work in partnership with African countries to implement the AfCFTA.

“We are already working with 16 African governments to develop national strategies to maximise the opportunities created by this agreement and we will increase this number from next year.

“We are committed to working with African institutions to mobilise the resources that will be required for full implementation of the AfCFTA.

“In the first instance, the African Regional Integration Trust Fund will support countries to mobilise resources to finance regional integration”, she said.

Ghana will be the host country for the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area after being selected by the Assembly of Heads of State & Government of African Union.

The AfCFTA agreement was adopted and opened for signature on 21 March 2018 in Kigali. The AfCTA entered into force on 30 May 2019, thirty days after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29 April, 2019 in conformity with legal provisions.