Zambia recently submitted the instruments of its ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to the African Union Commission, according to African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, who recently said in Addis Ababa that Zambia has become the 36th AU member to fully accede to the agreement.
With Zambia’s ratification, only 18 member states are left to comply with the requirement. They are Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania, according to African media reports.
The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019, after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries, the minimum number required. Only Eritrea out of the continent’s 55 countries is yet to sign the agreement.
It provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction. Trading started officially on January 1.
Zambia’s ratification comes as the country finalises its national AfCFTA strategy, which will guide its implementation of the agreement.
Through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has been working with AUC and member states to deepen Africa’s trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development.
The ECA also works with the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union to assist with the implementation of the agreement.