AU approves African Continental Free Trade Area

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as the protocols on trade in goods and services that form part of the agreement, was approved at the Africa Union (AU) ministers of trade meeting on Sunday.

The AfCFTA will now be submitted to the Extra-Ordinary Summit of AU heads of state and government on 21 March in Kigali, Rwanda.

The African ministers of trade who attended the meeting also approved a work programme for concluding any outstanding issues for AfCFTA implementation that will start after the summit.

“The envisaged AfCFTA offers an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment,” said Department of Trade and Industry spokesperson, Sidwell Medupe. “The AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products and services in West Africa and North Africa.”

He said that the AfCFTA was being pursued under the development integration approach which combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development. The agreement is expected to address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints, promote diversification of Africa’s export base,and alleviate the “chronic” infrastructure deficit.

Additionally, it will also help to harmonise customs documentation and processes on the continent.

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