Apr 05, 2019: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement has seen the tally of countries endorsing the pact to 22, the number required to meet the minimum threshold for the agreement to come into effect, with Gambia’s ratification recently. As planned, the operational phase of the AfCFTA will go ahead in July as planned.

The deal was signed by 49 of the African Union’s 55 nations in 2018 and aims to create the largest trade zone in the world, facilitating inter-African trade, boosting growth, allowing for tariff concessions and enabling the free movement of people, goods and services. It will create a market of $3 trillion, incorporating 1.2 billion people.

However, the establishment of a single trade bloc will bring its challenges, given the divisive politics prevalent in many African states and considerable income disparities. Currently, Africa’s intra-regional trade stands at between 15 percent and 18 percent, and say the AfCFTA could increase this low figure to 52 percent by the year 2022.

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