Experts call for action plans to boost AfCFTA Implementation

African countries need to deliver action plans and national strategies to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and economic integration among them, experts have said.

   The call was made on at the “National Consultation Forum on the Development of Ethiopia’s AfCFTA Implementation Strategy” held in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

   Speaking at the event, Stephen Karingi, director of Regional Integration and Trade Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said that the practical implementation of the AfCFTA has a potential to foster industrialization, job creation and investment in Africa.

   “I feel proud to report that 36 African countries and three regional economic communities (RECs) have developed and launched their AfCFTA implementation strategies,” said Karingi, urging the remaining 19 African countries to deliver national strategies to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA.

   He said the implementation of the AfCFTA is progressing well with an ambitious target set to achieve tariff linearization for 97 percent of trade across the continent.

   Karingi, however, noted that infrastructure deficiencies, inadequate transportation networks and border facilities remain to have been challenges, impeding the swift implementation of the AfCFTA.

   Beyene Petros, director general of the Ethiopian Policy Studies Institute, said since the entry into force of the AfCFTA in 2019, there has been important progress. A total of 47 member states of the African Union (AU) have so far ratified it since 2019.

   “This agreement forms the largest free trade area in the world, comprising 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product of 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars and connecting 1.3 billion people across the continent,” said Petros, quoting the World Bank.

   He called on African countries to avoid the tradition of reluctance in the field of economic integration and come up with action plans to create a single large market for African goods and services.

   The World Bank estimates that the AfCFTA will lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035, create real income growth of around 450 million U.S. dollars and increase exports within the continent by 81 percent.

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