President Kagame and Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) has said that the implementation of the new African free trade area is an important step forward towards the unification of Africa.
He was speaking at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Sunday in Niamey capital of Niger where he joined other Heads of State and Government from across the continent to launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He thanked Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou for the role that his country and him have played in signing the free trade area pact and hosting the participants in Niger to launch it.
“History will record the central role played by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, in bringing us to this point. Our task now is to finalise the remaining negotiations and operational instruments in a timely manner,” he said.
Also discussed at the summit were key issues including the removal of non-tariff barriers and regulations controlling trade liberalization, rules of origin and the development of a digital payment system.
Meanwhile, Nigeria honored the promise it had made earlier on Tuesday by signing up to the pact.
President Muhammadu Buhari noted that free trade must also be fair trade.
“As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population,” he said.
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have also joined making the number of countries that have ratified the free trade area pact, 27.
Meanwhile, the agreement will officially go into force in July 2020.
Member states have time to adopt the framework and prepare their business communities for the emerging market.
Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s commissioner for trade and industry, said they haven’t yet agreed on rules of origin and tariff confessions, but the framework they have is enough to start trading on July 1, 2020.
Tariffs are a form of tax, like a border tax.
They are placed on goods coming into a country for a range of reasons, sometimes to try and protect a home-made product.
FTAs also help make a country’s exports cheaper and give easier entry to other markets.