Nigeria will sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement

Nigeria will sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement

By Yomi Kazeem
Quartz

Nigeria—the continent’s largest economy and most populous country—will finally sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which aims to boost intra-Africa trade and create the world’s largest trading bloc.

While enough countries have signed up for the historic free trade deal to become operational (it surpassed the 22-nation threshold when Gambia signed on in April 2, 2019), the erstwhile absence of Nigeria has been a major concern for the African Union (AU).

Nigeria will sign the agreement at an AU summit in Niger next week, president Buhari office confirmed via tweet late on Tuesday (Jul 2).

On Tuesday (April 2, 2019), The Gambia’s parliament was the 22nd nation to ratify the agreement, the minimum threshold expected to approve the deal among the 55 member states of the African Union.

The economic play with the AfCFTA INTRA-is simple: African countries look inward and make it easier to trade with each other by removing current barriers to increased trade on the continent, such as current high tariffs. Having access to a larger market of around 1.2 billion people will potentially trigger industrialization and manufacturing across the continent and, in turn, create vast employment opportunities on a continent home to the world’s fastest-growing labor force. If signatory countries follow through with policies that spur local productivity, the free trade argument could boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022, estimates the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The AfCFTA also signals a renewed push for more integration across Africa in a bid to ease movement and trade. The African Union has also launched a single air transport market to boost connectivity and cut travel costs across the continent. And recognizing that freer intra-Africa movement is not dependent on cheaper flights alone, it has also launched an “African Union passport” which, while still unavailable, could potentially resolve problems Africans face when traveling within the continent.

Video: June 29, 2019 AFCFTA| Africa Economic Integration In Focus

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