AU chair urges Africa to intensify free trade pact

09 Feb, 2019 - 00:02 0 Views
AU chair urges Africa to intensify free trade pact Moussa Faki Mahamat

The Herald

ADDIS ABABA. — Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat on Thursday urged AU member countries to intensify efforts for the realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Mr Mahamat made the call during the 34th ordinary session of the executive council, which was underway from February 7 to 8 at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The meeting was held within the framework of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU.

“The progress of the Africa AfCFTA is very encouraging, at the current pace of ratification we can anticipate entering the agreement into force within the coming weeks,” the AU chairperson told African foreign ministers.

“I hope the 6 countries that are yet to sign this instrument will do it as soon as possible, and those that have already signed will very quickly carry out the process of ratification,” Mr Mahamat said.

The AfCFTA, which is considered as Africa’s flagship initiative towards strengthening the continent’s currently low economic integration, is gaining momentum under the leadership of the AU Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Ratifying the agreement last week, Ethiopia has joined the rapidly increasing number of African countries that have reiterated their commitment to the continental free trade pact.

A total of 49 of the AU’s 55 member states have so far signed the AfCFTA agreement, while 13 countries have ratified the agreement, according to figures from the AU.

While a minimum of 22 ratifications are required for the AfCFTA to come into force, some 12 other AU member countries are also in advanced stages of obtaining parliamentary approval for ratification, according to the AU.

“The attainment of the objectives of the free trade area presupposes also that we progress quickly towards the single African Air Transport Market, as well as the protocol on the Free Movement Persons and the African Passport,” Mr Mahamat said.

Meanwhile, heads of state and government from across the continent are gathering in Addis Ababa for the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU, which will run from February 10 to 11.

President Mnangagwa is among the leaders attending the AU Summit.

The theme for this year’s summit is: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa”.

The 55-member pan-African body will also appoint a new leader to succeed President Paul Kagame who is stepping down. Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to take over the rotating chair of the continental body. — Xinhua/HR.

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