All is set for the launch the operational phase of the much-heralded Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the African Union Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, in Niamey – Niger, tomorrow 7th July.
The launch is a culmination of a series of statutory and technical meetings, as well as side events that have been taking place in in the Nigerien capital throughout this week. Of note was the the AfCFTA Business Forum 2019 which has attracted heads of state and government, business Leaders, representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), multilateral agencies and financial institutions, as well as leading academics, civil society representatives.
Participants are exploring and discussing what businesses should do to get themselves ‘AfCFTA ready’ and where the opportunities are.
AfCFTA: From rules of origin to scaling up trade
The Business Forum discussed key issues underlying the implementation of the AfCFTA and how it will operate, among them: rules of origin, tariff concessions, non-tariff barriers, digital payments and settlement platforms, cutting red tape and scaling up infrastructure for intra-Africa trade.
Panel discussions by experts will explore areas such as how businesses can best position, scale up and win in this vast market of 1.2bn people; embracing the AfCFTA as the new domestic market for business; the power of collaboration and how to find the right partners to succeed in the AfCFTA; how business can commit to undertake large scale and long term investments in the AfCFTA, and much more.
Moussa Faki Mahamat Chairperson of the AUC has hailed the launch as a “remarkable” and “historic” achievement.
“It goes without saying that the most emblematic of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 is the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. The AfCFTA has the ambition in the final analysis, to establish a continental market. The idea goes back to 1963, with the establishment of an African Economic Community,” he explained when he official opening ceremony of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council which holds days before the Summit.
The launch of the AfCFTA follows the coming into force of the trade area on the 30th of May, after the deposit of the required minimum of 22 ratifications by member states of the AU. Since then three more instruments of ratification have been deposited, bring the total number of countries that have ratified the AfCFTA to 25.
Nigeria the last holdout
Nigeria, the last main holdout to what could potentially become the world’s largest trading block, finally announced on Wednesday that President Muhamadu Buhari, would append his signature and committee his country to the AfCFTA at this summit.
Today Ghana was selected as a the country that will host the AfCFTA secretariat.
With the launch of the operational phase, traders across Africa will be able to make use of preferential trading arrangements offered by the AfCFTA, with the understanding that the trade transactions are among the Member States that have deposited the instruments of ratification and those that conform to the provisions on rules of origin governing trade in the AfCFTA.”