NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed the landmark agreement creating African Continental Free Trade Area, bringing 54 nations under one common market.
The agreement that is expected to be signed by all member states of the African Union will create a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion.
Moreover, Africa’s population is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the African Union.
African heads of state agreed to establish a continental free trade area in 2012 and started negotiations in 2015.
Over 20 African heads of state gathered in Kigali Wednesday to sign the agreement.
Nigeria and Uganda heads of state skipped the meeting.
The agreement is seen as the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the agreement’s implementation could increase intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022, compared with trade levels in 2010.
The agreement will see African countries remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods with 10 per cent of sensitive items to be phased in later.
The agreement is also expected to tackle the non-tariff barriers that include long delays at borders.
“The Continental Free Trade Area will be about re-organizing the geo-economic landscape of Africa. It is about shedding the inheritance of a divided continent and fragmented markets. It is about robust growth for job creation, modernization of Africa’s economy and relating to the global economy on a surer footing,” Chiedu Osakwe, Nigerian Chief Trade Negotiator and Director-General of Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations had stated in November last year during the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum held in Nigeria.