“We now have heads of state and government from 54 countries sticking to this agreement. It`s a game-changer. There is much more political energy now than ever in integration,” said Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC). She spoke at a meeting of the World Economic Forum on Africa, developed with the Platform of the Forum for the Future of International Trade and International Investment. Eritrea has not signed because of tensions with Ethiopia, but after the 2018 Eritrea-Ethiopia summit, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry expects Eritrea to sign the agreement.  The 12th African Union extraordinary meeting on AfCFTA was convened to begin the new agreement in its operational phase, held in Niamey on 7 July 2019.   The agreement is seen as crucial to growth and job creation for Africa and its 1.27 billion people. Achieving Nigeria`s agreement and entering the operational phase in July of this year was an important step: Roberto Echandi is a leading private sector specialist at ETIRI. It focuses on research and policy advice on issues related to cross-border trade in services, negotiations, implementation and maximizing the potential benefits of deep integration trade agreements and the AfCFTA negotiation and implementation process. Paul Brenton is a leading economist in the World Bank`s Trade and Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI). It focuses on analytical and operational work in the area of trade and regional integration.
In 1963, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded by the independent states of Africa. The aim of the OAU was to promote cooperation between African states. The 1980 Lagos Action Plan was adopted by the organization. The plan proposed that Africa minimize its dependence on the West by encouraging intra-African trade. It began with the creation of a number of regional cooperation organizations in different parts of Africa, such as the Conference on the Coordination of Southern African Development. Finally, in 1991, this led to the Abuja Treaty, which founded the African Economic Community, an organization that encouraged the development of free trade zones, customs union, an African Central Bank and a common African monetary union.   Economic Integration Compared To Open Trade Agreements Open economies Important funding, all work on afCFTA implementation is not complete: the letter outlines important milestones that have not yet been completed for a reached agreement (Figure 3). The mandate also recommends that negotiations should not be complicated by adding new layers of complexity to established trade agreements, maximizing afCFTA`s benefits, making commitments in accordance with existing country-specific trade benefits, thinking beyond goods, and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the service industry. Yulia Vnukova advises the World Bank in the Department of Trade and Regional Integration (ETIRI).
Based on more than a decade of experience, Yulia`s current work focuses on trade policy and regional integration, focusing on macroeconomic and microeconomic analyses of trade, trade and sectoral competitiveness, global value chains and private sector development in emerging countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Negotiations for Phase II began in February 2019. These negotiations will include protocols on competition, intellectual property and investment. Negotiations on Phase II issues are expected to conclude in 2020.   Indeed, since the creation of the World Trade Organization, Africa has been home to the world`s largest free trade area, with almost all the countries on the continent having joined (Figure 1). The agreement was negotiated by the African Union (AU) and signed on 21 March 2018 by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda.   The agreement first requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to b