Africa’s historic free trade deal takes off by month-end: minister

Big 5

A landmark free trade deal, which aims to bring together all African Union states altogether, will come into force at the end of this month, Egyptian Trade Minister Amr Nassar said on Tuesday.

The deal, named the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), have been ratified by 22 African countries. The AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion—making it the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization seven decades ago.

African leaders hope the agreement will eliminate current high tariffs, generate employment opportunities for a rapidly growing young workforce, and harmonise the work of already-existing regional economic communities. It could also enhance intra-African trade by 52.3 percent annually, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The deal is expected to favour small and medium-size businesses, which are responsible for more than 80 percent of Africa’s employment and 50 percent of its GDP.

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