With Gambia’s ratification, a massive new African free trade zone is springing into being, said a top African Union official on Tuesday.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) “market is being born and is one step ready for launch of its operational phase in July this year,” Albert Muchanga, African Union commissioner for trade and industry, wrote on Twitter.
“The AfCFTA’s work on rules of origin; tariff concessions, payments and settlements; non-tariff barriers; and trade information are the other steps and are also progressing very well for the launch,” he added.
The deal will make Africa the world’s largest free trade area created in terms of the number of participating countries since the World Trade Organization was formed in 1995.
It will create a market of $3 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people with no tariffs or border restrictions.
Twenty-two countries are required to ratify the deal, and Ethiopia and Gambia took the deal over the line.
Intra-African trade accounts for around 16 percent of the continent’s total trade, according to the African Union, and under the AfCFTA this could increase by half.
Reporting By Tufan Aktas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Writing By Zehra Nur Duz