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On March 21, 2018, in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a historic meeting of the century was held.

The Heads of the Member States of the African Union (AU) Commission initiated the creation of the world’s largest free trade area, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The implementation of this agreement should increase the volume of trade in goods by 16%, it is also expected to make 90% of trade in goods free of customs duties.

A year after its signing, the 22 ratifications required for its implementation were completed when The Gambia on April 4, 2019 ratified the Agreement.

The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa welcomes this commitment and expresses gratitude to the Heads of State and Government of Africa.

The Network urges other countries to ratify the Agreement as soon as possible, before the official launch of the AfCFTA scheduled for July 2019 in Niamey, Niger, on the sidelines of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

The implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to lead to the increase in the volume of exports by US$35 billion per year, representing 52% of exports, and the reduction of imports by US$10 billion. Agricultural and industrial exports are also expected to increase from US$4 billion to US$21 billion.

This development has the potential to create employment and wealth on the African continent. With average tariffs at 6.1%, companies currently face higher tariffs when exporting goods within Africa, while they pay lower tariffs when they export goods outside the continent.

The AfCFTA, a flagship project carved out of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled for 2022 and mainly included in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, has enormous advantages and potentials, such as significantly increasing intra-African trade, and also stimulating and encouraging investment, innovation, and the structural transformation of African economies in order to improve food security, economic growth, exports diversification and the rationalization of the trade regimes of the economic communities.

It is in the spirit of a dynamic and expanding trade in Africa that the Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa is urging signatory countries to consider negotiating, among other things, the aspects and modalities of the implementation of this agreement, including rules of origin, payment terms, tariff concessions for merchandise trade and settlement and non-tariff barriers.

It should be obvious that the AfCFTA would give birth to a large single and common continental market, and has the potential for the economic integration of 1.2 billion people, representing a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion in all the 55 African Union Member States.

The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa would like to take the opportunity to thank the Sub-regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (SRO-WA/ECA), for having organized a workshop on the AfCFTA for journalists from West Africa in February 2019 in Monrovia (Liberia), in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); a workshop that enabled the Network, not only to understand the innovations and opportunities of the AfCFTA, but also, through the various communication materials, to enhance the awareness of the populations of ECOWAS.

The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa is committed to support all AfCFTA initiatives, so that regional integration in the five sectors, namely trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration, would become a reality and contribute towards the structural and socio-economic transformation of the continent.

About the Network
The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa was initiated and formed under the leadership of the Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Its membership is made up of journalists from all the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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