Continental Focus, International Reach

Pan-African Free Trade Pact Comes into Force

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into force in late May after being ratified by the parliaments of 24 countries. The commissioner of Trade and Industry for the African Union, Albert Muchanga, confirmed by tweet that the agreement is now in force and that a unified market would be launched July 7.

Surprisingly, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, has not signed on to the agreement, saying it needed to consult economic stakeholders before deciding on whether or not to participate. At present, 52 African nations are onboard with the deal, leaving just Nigeria, Benin, and Eritrea on the sidelines.

According to the Brookings Institution, “The significance of the AfCFTA cannot be overstated: It will be the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994.”

The AfCFTA is expected to greatly facilitate the movement of goods between nations and reduce tariffs dramatically. Once in effect, participants will be required to drop 90% of their tariffs for imports from other African states. According to the United Nations, this could boost intra-African trade by 52.3%.