Members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network have called on countries that have not ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), to consider doing so without any further delay.
The call by the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network comes in the wake of the fast approaching official launch of the AfCFTA, scheduled for July 2019 in Niamey, Niger, on the sidelines of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
According to a press release, the implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to lead to increase in the volume of exports by US$35 billion per year, representing 52% of exports, and the reduction of imports by US$10 billion.
Making the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement workable through ratification by all member countries will also see agricultural and industrial exports increased from US$4 billion to US$21 billion.
Knowledgeable minds and their likes in the field of economics strongly believe that such development has the potential to create employment and wealth on the African continent.
With average tariffs at 6.1%, companies currently face higher tariffs when exporting goods within Africa, while they pay lower tariffs when they export goods outside the continent.
The release indicates that the AfCFTA, a flagship project, carved out of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled for 2022 and mainly included in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, has enormous advantages and potentials.
"These enormous advantages and potentials include significantly increasing intra-African trade, and also stimulating and encouraging investment, innovation, and the structural transformation of African economies in order to improve food security, economic growth, exports diversification and the rationalization of the trade regimes of the economic communities," the release notes.
it further discloses that it is also in the spirit of a dynamic and expanding trade in Africa that the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network is urging signatory countries to consider negotiating, among other things, the aspects and modalities of the implementation of this agreement, including rules of origin, payment terms, tariff concessions for merchandise trade and settlement and non-tariff barriers.
The press release continues that political and economic pundits also believe that the AfCFTA will give birth to a large single and common continental market, and has the potential for the economic integration of 1.2 billion people, representing a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion in all the 55 African Union Member States.
"The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa would like to take the opportunity to thank the Sub-regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (SRO-WA/ECA), for having organized a workshop on the AfCFTA for journalists from West Africa in February 2019 in Monrovia (Liberia), in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)," a release from Niamey (Niger), said.
The release concludes that the Monrovia workshop, among other things enabled the Network, not only to understand the innovations and opportunities of the AfCFTA, but also, through the various communication materials, to enhance the awareness of the populations of ECOWAS.-Press release