KIGALI, March 20– Benefits from increased intra-trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are tools for creating prosperity for every African, said the chairperson of the African Union (AU) and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame on Tuesday.
With the signing of the “historic agreement”,”a new chapter in the story of African unity is set to begin,” said Kagame at the AfCFTA Business Forum, held under the framework of the AU extraordinary summit on the AfCFTA.
African leaders are expected to sign on Wednesday an agreement that will launch the AfCFTA at the heads of state and government summit of the extraordinary summit, according to the AU.
The stakes of the AfCFTA are enormous for Africa, but also for the entire global economy, to which Africa will contribute an ever-greater share in the decades ahead, said Kagame in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.
The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area created in terms of numbers of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization, according to the AU. The AfCFTA could create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars, the pan-African bloc said.
The AfCFTA will progressively eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for African businesses to trade within the continent and benefit from the growing African market, said the AU.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 53.2 percent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.
Kagame also said increasing intra-African trade does not mean doing less business with the rest of the world; on the contrary, African firms will become bigger, more specialized, and more competitive internationally.