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AU chairperson pledges unwavering support for AfCFTA

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in Pretoria, South Africa, June 17, 2020. The summit, held via video link, was jointly proposed by China, South Africa, the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal, the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). (South Africa Presidency/Handout via Xinhua)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the African Union (AU) Chairperson, has pledged his “unwavering support” for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), his office said on Thursday.

Ramaphosa provided his assurance of support to AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene on the occasion of the commissioning and handover ceremony of the AfCFTA Secretariat building in Accra, Ghana, to the African Union Commission (AUC) earlier this week, said Tyrone Seale, acting spokesperson for Ramaphosa.

Ghana was selected to host the AfCFTA Secretariat by AU member states on the occasion of the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger in July of 2019.

In this regard, Ramaphosa has, on behalf of the AU and the continent, expressed profound gratitude to the government and people of Ghana for generously offering the building and residences which house the AfCFTA, Seale said in a statement.

Ramaphosa assured Mene of the AU’s commitment to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA, as a practical contribution to economic development of Africa and welcomed progress achieved thus far in the implementation of the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit, Seale said.

Ramaphosa also acknowledged the challenges that exist in the negotiations, in particular around the issue of the Rules of Origin and Trade Offers, as well as trade in services, according to Seale.

Ramaphosa voiced his confidence that through Mene’s leadership and the determination of the AU member states, all bracketed issues should be resolved, Seale said.

Elected in February 2020 with a mandate to administer the free trade agreement, Mene is the first secretary-general of the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA envisages a single market for AU member states with a combined population of over one billion and a total gross domestic product (GDP) of about 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

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