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African continental free trade pact “weeks away” from entry into force: Kagame

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Through AfCFTA, industrialization will help create employment for Africa’s youth, thereby improving livelihoods, access to education and health. Photo: Xinhua

ADDIS ABABA – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) stands only weeks away from entry into force, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said on Sunday.

Kagame, who ended his one-year African Union (AU) chairmanship tenure made the remarks on Sunday while addressing the opening session of the 32nd AU assembly summit, which is underway from Feb. 10 to 11 at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

"The continental free trade area stands only weeks away from entry into force, thanks to the accelerating pace of ratification," the outgoing AU chairperson said.

Kagame also commended Guinea-Bissau for signing the instrument during the ongoing 32nd African leaders' summit, becoming the latest signatory of the continental pact.

"We encourage those signatories who have not yet ratified to do so at the earliest opportunity," Kagame said. Speaking to Xinhua on Saturday, Hanan Morsy, director of the African Development Bank's (AfDB) macroeconomic policy department, said that implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to raise intra-African trade by 15 percent.

The implementation of AfCFTA would result in a net gain of 2.8 billion U
S dollars in real income for Africans, according to Morsy.

"
African countries can help in the implementation of AfCFTA through domestic legislation
that eliminates bilateral trade tariffs, by removing non-trade barriers on goods and services, opening their skies to African airlines and allowing free movement of people across borders," Morsy said.

On Thursday, the AU said six more member states are expected to deposit ratifications of the AfCFTA, bringing the number of ratifications to 17. A total of 22 ratifications are needed for AfCFTA to come into force.

XINHUA

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