President Muhammadu Buhari has finally signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement after months of delay.
AFCTA seeks to establish single continental market for goods and services as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and business travelers. The African Union agreed in January 2012 to develop the AfCFTA. It took eight rounds of negotiations, beginning in 2015 and lasting until December 2017, to reach agreement.
It came into effect on Thursday, May 30, 2019 after it was rectified by majority of the countries on the continent.
In a nutshell, AFCTA will create a single market of goods and services for 1.2 billion people with an aggregate GDP of over $2 trillion. UNCTAD, the UN’s trade body, predicts reducing intra-African tariffs under AfCFTA “could bring $3.6 billion in welfare gains to the continent through a boost in production and cheaper goods.”
It will be the world’s largest free trade area by the number of countries involved.
President Buhari had initially refused to sign the agreement over fears that it may lead to dumping of goods in the country, considering the infrastructure challenges Nigeria has.
Last week, however, he agreed to sign. And eventually did at the ongoing 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Govt, in Niamey, Niger Republic. The summit will officially bring the agreement to the market.
A statement from the official twitter handle of the presidency confirmed the signing.
“President Buhari signs, on behalf of Nigeria, the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (#AfCFTA), at the opening of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Govt, in Niamey, Niger Republic, July 7, 2019 #AUSummit,” the statement said.