by Abisoye Shola………
There are strong indications that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) agreement will not begin on July 1st, 2020 as planned due to disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.
The newly elected Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene has been reported to have bowed under external pressure to shift this all-important meeting even when African Business Leaders (ABL)- a group of top African private sector operators had advised otherwise.
Last week ABL had advised governments of African country not to shift this meeting even if it entails holding the meeting online through Wabinar but Meme has been reported to have moved the date of the meeting to an undisclosed date.
can be recalled that the agreement which entered its operational phase on July 7, 2019, was expected to kick start in July 2020, following the ratification by 54 of all 55 African countries.
The AfCFTA agreement, which is aimed at removing trade barriers and in turn boosting intra-Africa trade, was brokered by African Union (AU) and signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. President Muhammadu Buhari, in July 2019, after initially withdrawing assent, signed the agreement at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in the Niger Republic.
The agreement requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods traded, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the elimination of tariffs could boost trade in Africa by 15-25 percent in the medium term. Once operational, the agreement is expected to create a US$3.4 trillion economic bloc, connecting 1.3 billion people across Africa, which would make it the largest trading bloc since the World Trade Organization was formed in 1994