Apr 03, 2019: Africa's largest trade agreement, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is on track to operationalise and projected to boost intra-regional trade across the continent by up to 30 percent by July 2019.

According to Treasure Maphanga, the director for trade and industry at the African Union (AU) Commission, said, "We are actively planning for this eventuality, as we expect the largest free trade area of the world to be launched during the extraordinary AU Summit in Niamey, Niger in July." Maphanga said.

She said that since AU member states took the decision to establish the AfCFTA in March 2018, a total of 52 African countries out of 55 had signed the agreement, while 20 had ratified the agreement in their national assemblies. Of these, 15 had already deposited instruments of ratification with the AU Commission.

To support and ensure the successful realisation of the AfCFTA, plans were now at an advanced stage to establish a secretariat to monitor and track implementation, she noted.

Once the AfCFTA becomes operational, the next stage for Africa is to launch a continental Common Market. A Common Market is a higher level of integration where countries remove all trade barriers between themselves, establish common tariff and non-tariff barriers for importers, and allow for the free movement of labour, capital and services.

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