Malaysian Digest | 23 March 2018
African Union plans another summit In July for countries unsure about FTA
The African Union (AU) is to hold another summit in Mauritania in July when countries with reservations about signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement can make their choice.
On Wednesday, leaders of 44 African countries out of the 55 AU member nations signed the agreement to establish the AfCFTA at an extraordinary summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The AfCFTA aims to bring together all the 55 member countries of the AU to trade tariff free.
Nigeria’s government earlier pulled out of the signing for further consultations with unions that fear job losses.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration subject to the conclusion of all outstanding issues which form an integral part of the agreement.
Ramaphosa made it clear that South Africa wants to be part of the trade bloc. “As far as we are concerned as South Africa, we are very part of this agreement. We want free trade in Africa. Nigeria did not sign because they needed to go through a consultation process. With 44 countries that have signed this agreement, its ushering in a new era of free trade,” said Ramaphosa.
The signing has been described as historic and marking a new dawn for Africa.
It comes after 55 years since the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and 16 years since the formation of its successor, the AU.
Leaders at the summit say this brings the continent closer to the dream of integration. The agreement will create a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5 trillion US dollars.