Africa Free Trade Agreement Gets Final Ratification from Gambia
The proposed plan towards a continental free trade area in Africa got the final ratification needed to become a reality on Monday. The trade coalition spanning 49 countries with a combined GDP of $3 trillion will facilitate inter-regional trade, boost growth and help alleviate poverty in the continent. Gambia became the 22nd African country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA); the bill now has the minimum number of ratifications needed to become effective.
The news was tweeted by the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga: “Good news! The Parliament of The Gambia has APPROVED ratification of #AfCFTA Agreement making us meet the minimum threshold. The AfCFTA market is being born and is one step ready for launch of its operational phase in July this year”.
The motion was brought before the Gambian parliament by Lamin Jobe, Gambia’s Trade Minister who highlighted the trade benefits of deeper regional integration.
“This document will definitely serve as a take-off point to enhance the free movement of people, good and services. By using this there is a lot of advantages that we can gain from the implementation of this agreement,” he said.
On March 21st, Ethiopia became one of the last African nations to ratify AfCFTA, bringing the tally of endorsing countries to 21. The agreement, signed by 49 of the 55 African Union nations in March last year, will bridge the gap of trade regulations and tariffs that makes intra-African commerce costly, time-consuming and cumbersome. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by up to 52% in 2022.
The promotion of tariff-free movement of goods, people and services across the continent is also expected to favor SMEs, who account for 80% of Africa’s employment and 50% of its GDP, according to the World Bank.
The countries that ratified the agreement include: Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea, Ethiopia, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The AfCFTA Agreement will enter into force, 30 days after the required number of ratifications have been deposited with the AU. This will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.