The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement expects several ratifications from member countries following Angola’s deposit of its ratification instrument with the African Union last week.
Angola’s ratification makes it the 30th country to become a State Party to the AfCFTA Agreement. The Angolan move comes less than two months before trading based on the AfCFTA Agreement is scheduled to start on 1 January 2021, thereby raising hopes that more countries will follow Angola’s lead before the end of the year.
Angola’s ratification was greeted with excitement by the African Union Commission, where the Commissioner for Trade Albert Muchanga said: “A new wave has been triggered and we expect more instruments in the coming weeks ahead of the start of trading.”
All eyes are now on the 24 signatory countries that have yet to ratify the treaty: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Zambia. Eritrea remains the only country that has not even signed the AfCFTA Agreement.
The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries – the minimum number required by the treaty. Trading was earlier scheduled to start on 1 July this year but was postponed for six months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AfCFTA aims to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential that brings together more than 1.2 billion people with a GDP of over $2.5 trillion and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through economy of scale, trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment, and poverty reduction.
Through its African Trade Policy Centre, the ECA has been working with the AUC and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development. The ECA also works closely with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU) to support the implementation of the AfCFTA across the continent.