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AfCFTA to curb trade volatility, says World Bank

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The World Bank has urged the ratification and effective implementation the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as part of efforts to reduce trade volatility and spur African economic growth.

The Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank, Albert Zeufack, who stated this, said effective implementation of the free trade policy would strengthen regional value chain for enhanced development.

He noted that the AfCFTA will create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments also paving way for the acceleration and establishment of the Continental Customs Union.

According to the African Union Commission, the AfCFTA aims to increase intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by the year 2020, remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods, liberalise services and tackle other barriers of inter-African trade, such as long delays at border posts.

The AfCFTA was originally billed to be the largest free trade zone in the world, but the slow pace of ratification now puts this in doubt, at least for now. However, ratification of the treaty by The Gambia a few days ago has brought the number of ratifications to 33, which makes for the threshold required for it to come into force about one year after agreement to create the free trade area was first reached by African Heads of State.

To boost the policy initiative among member states, the European Union (EU), has committed €4 million, out of the estimated €50 million, needed to fund the establishment of the AU Trade Observatory, a key pillar of the implementation of AfCFTA.