Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement – A look at how Uganda and rest of Africa will benefit

 Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement – A look at how Uganda and rest of Africa will benefit

Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) makes a shaky beginning – From 17th to 21st March 2018, a summit was held in Kigali, Rwanda to take a step towards creating the biggest economic bloc since the World trade organization (WTO).

55 African countries sent their leaders, like in the case of Uganda, representatives to sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) that would put strides in the direction of creating that bloc.

The agreement has been long awaited by many and if completed successfully will see the creation a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion dollars.

This comes at perfect time as Uganda, like most African countries, has been lobbying for implementation of better regional integration policies to keep up with the trade competition in the world for a while now.

The Agreement is predicted to boost intra-African trade by reducing barriers, such as removing import duties and tackle movement of business persons, delays at the borders that frustrate trade and non-tariff barriers.

This will inadvertently boot the intra-continental business.  The progress of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), however, hit a snag when 11 members of the African Union did not sign the agreement.

Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement2
Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement hit a snag as 11 members of the African Union did not sign the agreement. Image credit: AU

These countries include; Nigeria and South Africa which are among the largest economies and populations in Africa. The president of Nigeria explained the reasons for the reluctance to join the party via Twitter which included concerns about the implication of signing the Agreement to the local manufacturers and entrepreneurs of their own countries.

South African president, despite not signing the agreement, stated his commitment to it once the necessary legal processes. He did, however, sign the Kigali agreement on the establishment of the AfCFTA. The other countries that were sipping tea on the reluctant-train and failed to sign include; Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

The African Union has not yet agreed on the number of countries that need to ratify for the agreement to be implemented but at least 22 countries must ratify the agreement before it can be implemented. This means that the AfCFTA maybe on its way to being put into action by the end of this year. This also means that we can expect a boost in the intra-African trade by 52% by 2022.

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