Nigeria joins the league of nations that have signed the African continental Free Trade Area Agreement; this happened after an extended awaiting a response from the giant of Africa and self-acclaimed biggest economic country in Africa. On Saturday, July 7, 2019, Nigeria finally committed to signing the Africa continental free trade agreement at the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of the union on African Continental Free Trade Agreement; leaving Eritrea as the only nation out of the 55 African Union Member States not to sign up to the deal.
Nigeria was reluctant to sign the Trade Area Agreement as a result of fear of the trade hampering the entrepreneurship commitment in the country but after much consultation and consideration by the committee set up by Nigeria President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to review the content of the trade and its benefit to the country, it was considered and signed by the president.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and has long been a regional leader so, when it stalled, observers questioned if the African trade bloc would ever actually happen. With Nigeria signed up, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement’s dream of increasing intra-Africa trade, which currently lags behind the volume of trade the continent does with Europe, is now one step closer.
Now that ACFTA can offer access to the enormous Nigerian market, they are in a much stronger position to negotiate with regional bodies in other parts of the world.
The countries that have signed the deal are Algeria, Angola, Benin Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda,Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria joined recently.
All the 55 countries that form African Union has signed the deal except Eritrea that did not participate in the negotiations because of their conflict with Ethiopia; the statement is credited to the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the AU Commission Albert Muchanga.