Free trade regime to extend to 31 countries in Africa this year



Free trade regime to extend to 31 countries in Africa this year

Free trade regime to extend to 31 countries in Africa this year

The secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has promised to extend the newly introduced free trade regime to 31 countries this year.

AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, bringing together 55 African Union countries and eight regional economic communities to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of about US$3.4 trillion.

AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene admitted that the trade has already started, with goods moving across borders, although the agreement is still at an early stage.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Mene said that routes and legal design had been developed with the participation of the private sector to enable the single market to function effectively.

He referred to the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS), which was launched last year.

PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement system for intra-African trade in goods and services using local currencies, circumventing the need for a third currency such as the US dollar or the euro on a continent that currently has some 42 separate currencies.

“This year, our intention is to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA. In 2023 we had seven countries that took part in a pilot project of trading, functioning under the rules of the AfCFTA. This year 31 contries will participate in the guided trading initiative, applying the preferential rules of the AfCFTA for trade,” Mene said.

Last year, the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat selected Cameroon, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tanzania took part in the initiative which allowed the selected countries to access certain markets at preferential rates for certain products.

For example, Kenya was allowed to trade milk, cheese, textiles and horticultural products in West and Central Africa, while Rwanda was allowed to trade in telephones, textiles, insecticides, processed foods. This is reported by
Pretoria News, a partner of TV BRICS.

“In 2024 the intensified efforts will be on the services sector: tourism and banking sector, within the framework of this pilot, guided trading initiative that we are implementing,” Mene emphasised.

Photo: Pretoria News




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