African States Launch the Operational Phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, Creating One of the Largest Common Markets in the World

*Written by Naomi Tarawali

During the African Union’s 12th Extraordinary Summit in early July, the signatory States of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (the “Agreement”), which entered into force on May 30, 2019, launched the Agreement’s operational phase.

The Agreement is pioneering as a truly pan-African agreement tackling barriers to intra‑African trade and creating one of the largest common markets in the world. It has been ratified by more than 25 African Union Member States, and a further 27 States have signed the Agreement and are expected to ratify, with Nigeria and Benin most recently signing the Agreement on July 7, 2019. Only one of the African Union Member States, Eritrea, has not signed up to the Agreement.  Although the impact of the Agreement remains to be seen, projections are promising and many are optimistic that it will have a significant effect on boosting intra-African trade, encouraging investment from within and outside of Africa and enhancing overall the competitiveness of African States’ economies in the continent and in the global market.

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