By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will lift 30 million people from extreme poverty and another 68 million people from moderate poverty.
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To boost intra-African trade, the continent has embarked on the gradual elimination of tariffs on 90 percent of goods, and the reduction of barriers to trade in services aimed at increasing Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035. The successful implementation of the AfCFTA will lead to the creation of more decent jobs, improved welfare and better quality of life for all citizenry, and sustainable development. Beyond the policy transformation and reforms, the AfCFTA seeks to ensure inclusivity of women and youth, including youth in the rural areas, development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and overall industrialization of the Continent.
As at February 2022, eight countries representing the five regions of the continent – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia – participated in the AfCFTA’s Guided Trade Initiative, which seeks to facilitate trade among interested AfCFTA state parties that have met the minimum requirements for trade, under the Agreement. This initiative supports matchmaking businesses and products for export and import between State Parties.
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The products earmarked to trade under the Initiative include: ceramic tiles; batteries, tea, coffee, processed meat products, corn starch, sugar, pasta, glucose syrup, dried fruits, and sisal fibre, amongst others, in line with the AfCFTA focus on value chain development.
In the year 2023, the AfCFTA Guided Trade shall also focus on Trade in Services in the five priority areas, ie. Tourism, transport, Business Services; Communication Services; Financial Services; Transport Services, and Tourism and Travel-related Services. The ultimate objective is to ensure that AfCFTA is truly operational and the gains from the initiative are improved implementation in order to achieve increased inter-regional and intra-Africa trade that would yield economic development for the betterment of the continent at large.
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The interlinkages with other critical economic sectors, the AfCFTA will similarly advance the progress in the implementation of the other sectors such as: Peace and Security and Trade, Trade Facilitation and Infrastructure, Harmonisation of standards and regulations, Trade and Climate Resilient Development, Enhanced Education systems and Enhanced Health Security.
The AfCFTA is a gamechanger for the African continent and year 2023 presents yet another opportunity to strengthen partnerships, mobilise resources, undertake outreach activities and promote the utilization of the AfCFTA by economic operators through unceasing engagement that will sustain the high momentum around the AfCFTA.