Addis Ababa — One month to the commencement of trading at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, two more countries have formalized their ratification of the agreement.
Lesotho and Tunisia submitted their instruments of ratification to the African Union Commission (AUC) which is the depository of the instrument on 2 November, according to the Commissioner for Trade Albert Muchanga.
This brings the number of countries that have now submitted their instruments of ratification to 32, said Ambassador Muchanga.
All eyes are now on 22 countries yet to ratify the treaty. They are Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Libya. The others are Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Tunisia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
Nigeria, which announced its intention to ratify on 11 November, is expected to make a formal submission anytime from now.
The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on 30 May, 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries — the minimum number required under the treaty, out of the 54 that agreed to be members of the bloc. Eritrea is the only country which has yet to make any commitment to the continental body.
Trading was earlier scheduled to start on 1 July this year but it was postponed for six months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction.
The ECA through its African Trade Policy Centre has been working with the AU to deepen Africa’s trade integration through the effective implementation of the agreement by supporting the AfCFTA ratification process through policy advocacy.
The ECA is also supporting the member-states to develop national strategies for the implementation of the AfCFTA. The ECA is working with partners, including the AUC, 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.