By: Daniel Mumbere
Gambia’s parliament on Tuesday approved the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), becoming the 22nd nation to do so, and effectively meeting the minimum threshold for the agreement to come into force.
The AfCFTA which was enacted last year, seeks to create the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022 and remove tariffs on 90% of goods.
African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga led celebrations of the historic achievement, posting on his office Twitter account that ‘the AfCFTA market is ready for launch of its operational phase in July this year’.
A summary of AfCFTA’s progress
* 52 countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement
* 22 countries have ratified the agreement as of April 2,2019
* 15 countries have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the AU
* 7 countries including Gambia have received parliamentary approval for ratification but are yet to deposit instruments with AU.
* Eritrea, Nigeria and Benin are yet to sign the AfCFTA agreement
* The AfCFTA Agreement will enter into force, 30 days after the required number of ratifications have been deposited with the AU.
Good news! The Parliament of The Gambia has APPROVED ratification of #AfCFTA Agreement making us meet the minimum threshold. The AfCFTA market is being born and is one step ready for launch of its operational phase in July this year.
Africa made it. With The Gambia ratification endorsed by Parliament it took 1 year for the minimum required number for the #AfCFTA to enter into force. This is an absolute record for these type of agreements. Let us not forget this one is the largest ever by the # of adherents.
With just 4 countries left to the enforcement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Amelia Martha Nakitimbo asks about readiness of member states to implement the deal.
The reluctance of AU member states to ratify this agreement points to one of the challenges that will likely slow the implementation. For instance, there is need for economic infrastructure to ease the said movement of people and goods from country to country. That means connecting roads, railway networks, and reducing the exorbitant air transport costs.
The new AU President has pledged to continue some of the reforms advanced by his predecessor including the AfCFTA. In the meantime, Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria remains defiant about even signing the agreement but the pressure is on.
“We warned against too many AU institutions being set up. And also, we are … insisting, actually, that the AU should be more prudent in the management of financial resources. But otherwise we support the initiatives being taken,” asserted Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama on the sidelines of the 32nd AU Summit in Addis Ababa.
52 out of 55 countries have signed the agreement, 18 out of the required 22 have ratified the agreement.