During the AGOA 2019 Forum on August 5, Deputy Trade Representative CJ Mahoney and Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission Albert Muchanga signed a joint statement relating to the African Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the support of the US to the African Union.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement entered into force on Thursday, May 30, 2019, after ratification by 24 African countries. In total, the agreement has been signed by 52 countries since the creation of ACFTA in March 2018. The establishment of this free trade area comes in response to the fact that trade between African countries represents less than 20% of intra-African trade.
The entry into force of this agreement is a first step towards the long march before the effectiveness of the African Common Market, the final step in the AU "Africa We Want" program.
The continent has high hopes in this free trade zone, whose effective implementation will increase intra-African trade by 52.3% by eliminating import tariffs. The strengthening of trade relations between African countries is all the more critical. This is especially true considering Africa will have 2.5 billion people by 2050, making it one of the most important markets on the planet.
However, for some experts, the ACFTA will have many challenges to overcome before being the long-awaited lever for African countries. The first challenge will be the effectiveness of the free-trade zones of sub-regional blocks (ECOWAS, CEMAC, SADEC ...). Then it will be necessary to think about the diversification of the supply of products of the African countries. The level of industrialization is currently relatively weak in most of the countries. This does not allow for a real diversification in the products exported. Finally, it will be necessary to look into the question of a common currency.
In any event, the hopes placed in the ZLECA are justified. It remains to be seen whether the political actions will make this promising project a reality.
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