Why Africa’s free-trade area offers so much promise
African leaders have just signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest free-trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The free-trade area aims to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. By 2030 the market size is expected to include 1.7-billion people with more than $6.7-trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending — that is if all African countries have joined the free-trade area by then. Ten countries, including SA and Nigeria, have yet to sign up. The goal is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments. The agreement has the potential to deliver a great deal for countries on the continent. The hope is that the trade deal will trigger a virtuous cycle of more intra-African trade, which will drive the structural transformation of economies — the transition from low productivity and labour-intensive activi...
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