Afcfta
Delegates pose for a group photo after the opening session of the Executive Council of Ministers of African Union meeting in Kigali. Timothy Kisambira.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Wednesday urged African countries to intensify concerted efforts towards building a single and unified continental market as stipulated under the ambitious African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The call was made by the Andrew Mold, Director of the Eastern African region office at the ECA, on Wednesday, as he emphasized the ambitious nature of the continental free trade pact AfCFTA in terms of transforming Africa towards “a single unified continental market.”

“The AfCFTA is not, as its name denotes, simply a free trade area,” Mold said, adding that the continental free trade accord “encompasses ambitions to proceed to a single unified continental market, with a lot of implications for business.”

According to the ECA’s eastern Africa region director, the AfCFTA, as a single unified continental market, would help African business environment “whether that is on investment, on competition, on intellectual property, or free movement,” an ECA statement quoted Mold as saying on Wednesday.

The ECA estimated that the African continental free trade accord will bring about “large potential gains” for Africa as a continent.

The AfCFTA, among other things, is expected to augment the intra-African exports by over 1 billion U.S. dollars and the creation of nearly 2 million new jobs, according to the ECA.

According to Mold, the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers and harmonization of standards as envisaged by the AfCFTA “represents a unique opportunity to boost intra-regional trade and investment.”

The AfCFTA, which aspires to establish the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, will create a 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars economic bloc and usher in a new era of development, according to the ECA.

The free trade pact is also expected to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a customs union. Enditem

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