38 countries ratify AfCFTA agreement – Secretary-General



38 countries ratify AfCFTA agreement – Secretary-General

By Emmanuella Anokam

Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, said 38 countries have now deposited their instrument of ratification of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.

Mene, who revealed this during an interview with reporters Wednesday in Abuja, said he was in the early stages of implementing the AfCFTA.

The 55 Member States of the African Union (AU) created the AfCFTA to create a single continent-wide market for goods and services and to promote the movement of capital and natural persons.

He said ratifying an international instrument involved many processes, but governments were encouraged to be swift for full implementation of AfCFTA and benefits across the continent.

On January 1, the implementation of the AfCFTA officially entered into force to deepen economic integration and promote the single market for goods and services on the continent.

“We are still waiting for others to ratify the agreement.

“But I’m not afraid that there are around 38 of us, because in order to ratify an international instrument, processes, including legal and political processes, had to be followed in order for a country to be in a state of readiness.

“There are countries that are ready with the necessary customs infrastructure to be able to trade in a commercial and meaningful sense, for example South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya.

“These are countries that have introduced the necessary customs procedures for trade to begin,” he noted.

The Secretary-General noted that he was in the initial stages of implementation and that he was also negotiating the outstanding areas of the first phase which included trade in goods and services.

He revealed that the phase two negotiation, which would start around July or August, would focus on intellectual property rights, competition policy, women in commerce and digital commerce.

Next generation trade issues will be the next area of ​​focus, he says.

He added that the Ambition was within 15 years, 97 percent of products traded in Africa should be zero-duty.

He described it as a very ambitious goal, which would boost intra-African trade by reducing barriers to trade.

“I think Africans need to be patient and understand that we are in the first important steps to go together under one set of rules.

“We will learn from the experience of the European Union (EU) that it took 72 years for the EU to get to the point of market intervention it enjoys today.

“What we are doing is not an easy task, it takes time, it takes patience to see results in the years to come.

“I am not worried about the slowness because generally the negotiations and the implementation of a trade agreement do not happen overnight,” he said.

According to him, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU gives us six months to conclude the outstanding work, we have made a lot of progress.

He said he was confident that when the heads of state met again in July in Chad, the secretariat would be able to report on its conclusion on the task they had given for the first phase while being ready to do so. start the second phase.

Nigeria has ratified the AfCFTA agreement and deposited its instrument of ratification of the AfCFTA with the Chairperson of the AU Commission in December 2020.

Of the 55 AU Member States, only Eritrea has yet to join. (NAA)


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