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The European Union (E.U.) Commission has lauded the African Union (A.U.) over the historic March 21 continental trade pact that was signed by over forty countries in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. According to the E.U., the move was a very big step towards deepening continental integration and building on successes at the sub-regional levels.

This was contained in a March 22, 2018 joint statement signed by Vice President Federica Mogherini and two other E.U. Commissioners. It emphasized that they were also ready to support the implementation of the deal within the framework of existing A.U.-E.U. agreements signed last year.

The adoption and signing of the AfCFTA legal instruments and the signing of the Protocol on free movement of persons are concrete commitments to liberalisation and to building on what has already been achieved at the regional level.

The launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is part of the broader Agenda 2063 program of the A.U. It is aimed at establishing free cross-border trade on the continent. The deal is estimated to create a market of over a billion people with a GDP of approximately $2.6 trillion.

The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a paltry 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.

Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.

It was not immediately clear why Nigeria stayed on the sidelines, but South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he would sign once necessary legal processes were done.

“President Ramaphosa has undertaken that South Africa will become a signatory to the agreement once the legal and other instruments associated with (the trade bloc) are processed and ratified by South African stakeholders and parliament,” the presidency said in a statement.

Others staying out of the bloc were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

European Commission – Statement: Brussels, 22 March 2018

Joint Statement by HR/VP Federica Mogherini, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and EU Commissioner for Development and International Cooperation Neven Mimica on the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area

The historic decision to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) taken on 21 March by the African Union at its Assembly in Kigali, represents a significant step towards deepening continental integration.

The adoption and signing of the AfCFTA legal instruments and the signing of the Protocol on free movement of persons are concrete commitments to liberalisation and to building on what has already been achieved at the regional level.

The EU is ready to support the implementation of this impressive achievement in the spirit of the African Union-European Union partnership and our joint political declaration of the Summit in Abidjan in November 2017.

The meeting between the African Union and the European Commission in Brussels on 23 May will be an important opportunity to discuss this further. We will be focussing on delivering on our joint commitments as agreed in Abidjan, to advance the strategic priorities for our cooperation for the coming years.

http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/22/eu-lauds-au-for-historic-continental-free-trade-pact-pledges-support//

 

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