VOICE OF AMERICA
Africa has launched the world’s largest trade bloc after the World Trade Organization. Every African nation except Eritrea has signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Area, and countries are developing safety guidelines for trade during the pandemic.
The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area initially was scheduled for the middle of 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic.
African governments decided to proceed with the launch in hopes that the trade bloc could boost African economies affected by COVID-19.
In some countries, such as Nigeria, authorities are dealing cautiously with trade by screening people and goods. Nigeria is among more than 30 African nations that ratified the treaty by December 2020.
The idea is to boost “Rules of Origin” goods, meaning that all the goods traversing borders must be made in Africa, not imported. The goal is to increase intra-Africa trade, which is about 16% of all trade.
The continent has a combined gross domestic product of $3 trillion. Experts say the trade deal could expand intra-Africa trade by more than 50%, and the accord contains a dispute resolution mechanism to handle trade disputes.
Many African countries are counting on Nigeria’s participation to boost the pact. Nigeria has the continent’s largest economy.
Nigerian authorities have created a National Action Committee consisting of customs, security and health officials to oversee the country’s trade dealings with other members and advise the government accordingly.