African Trade Pact Starts Operations With 54 Signatories



Katarina Hoije | Bloomberg

A landmark free-trade agreement removing most tariffs and other commercial barriers in the African continent became operational on Sunday, as 54 member states agreed on the process to implement the accord.

The members meeting at an African Union summit in Niger’s capital Niamey agreed on mechanisms that will underpin the accord, including determining the rules of origin, a digital payment system, an online tool for listing products and tariffs and a monitoring system to deal with non-trade barriers.

The African Free Trade Agreement commits the governments to greater economic integration, as the signatory states begin a multiyear process to remove trade barriers including tariffs on 90% of commodities. The duty-free movement of goods is expected to boost regional trade, while also helping countries move away from mainly exporting raw materials and build manufacturing capacity to attract foreign investment.

The agreement now includes 54 signatories, after Benin and Nigeria joined the accord on Sunday during the summit. In total, 27 countries including Kenya, Ghana, Gambia and Gabon have ratified the pact that came into force in May 2019. Morocco said it would ratify within days.

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