April 23, 2018

Africa's leaders to launch world's largest free trade area at Rwanda meeting

21 March 2018, 07:55 | Clyde Nash

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The Federal Executive Council headed by the Vice President had on Wednesday, March 13, 2018, approved that Nigeria signs the agreement with fellow African countries.

"We are afraid that the Rules of Origin cannot be adequately enforced because goods from the European Union can find their way into one of the African countries that have bilateral agreement with the EU".

The meeting will be preceded by Executive Council meeting which brings together foreign affairs ministers today and a business summit scheduled to take place tomorrow drawing top African business leaders and Heads of State and Government.

A Federation of Egyptian Industries delegation is now in Rwanda to meet with business representatives, the first in a series of visits to African countries to boost trade relations.

"As far as Nigeria is a net importing country of goods and services, we are not technologically advanced and we have a large population, Nigeria will be a dumping ground for goods and services", he said.

African officials and experts also said there could still be challenges facing the operation of the AfCFTA.

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"We must do so rapidly", she said.

The Executive Council works in support of the AU Assembly and reports directly to the Assembly.

"This is a historic pact which has been almost 40 years in the making, and it represents a major advance for African integration and unity", AU Chairperson and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said. It features a host of measures and institutional frameworks to foster intra-Africa trade through the elimination of tariffs, the harmonisation of customs protocols, and the development of regional supply chains.

The main objective of the CFTA is to "create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union", according to the AU website. The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, according to the AU.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated the agreement's implementation could increase intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, compared with trade levels in 2010.

The AfCFTA would include the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States.

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