African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the world’s largest trading bloc has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent through harmonization, facilitation and coordination of trade liberalization across Africa, in general.
To facilitate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the African Development Bank Group has signed a $4.8 million institutional support grant to the African Union (AU). The grant, approved by the Group’s Board of Directors, forms part of a series of interventions by the Bank in its lead role to accelerate the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement, in integrating the 55-nation continent and transforming its economy.
“The AfCFTA is going to work and we are confident that by the 1st of July next year, all the 55 countries would have been state parties – meaning, they would have signed and ratified the agreement and intra-African will start,” said
Albert Muchanga, AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry.
He also commended the Bank’s strong and consistent support to ensure smooth implementation of the Agreement, saying the grant would be used judiciously for the rollout of various protocols relating to the structure and mandate of the AfCFTA secretariat. The secretariat is tasked to provide the organizational structure for the permanent administrative body, its work programme and related issues including its budget.
“If the AfCFTA is complemented by trade facilitation reforms, reduction in non-tariff barriers, improved infrastructure and policy measures to encourage employment and private sector investments, it will stimulate poverty reduction and socio-economic development across Africa,” said Andoh Mensah, representing the Bank’s Director of the Industrial and Trade Development Department (PITD).
Currently, 54 states have signed the deal and are set to begin formal trading next July. African leaders meeting in Niamey, Niger in early July launched the implementation phase of the free trade area agreement after it became operational at the end of May this year.