What the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA )really mean

African Union

The CFTA (Continental Free Trade Area) was birthed during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, which they came to a unanimous agreement to adopt or establish so to speak a  Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by an indicative date of 2017.

The Summit they also agreed on coming up with the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) which identifies seven clusters: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration.

The CFTA will bring together fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.

The establishment of the CFTA and the implementation of the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) provide a detailed framework to pursue a developmental regionalism strategy. The BIAT is believed to be a time-sensitive or time-bound project, which means that it aims to double intra-African trade flows from January 2012 and January 2022.

These are the objectives of CFTA:

• Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
• Expand intra African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes and instruments across RECs and across Africa in general.
• Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.
• Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.

This is a huge step for Africa and African Leaders because this helps all the member state economy to flourish and grow when trade is done without restrictions or barrier. Bravo to the African Union member state for coming up with this initiative. Indeed Africa is catching up and would soon blaze the trail.

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