Last Wednesday, African leaders signed what is being called the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.
The deal creates a continental market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion. A major goal is to boost intra-African trade and rely less on the volatility of commodity prices that affect many exports.
“Our peoples, our business community and our youth in particular cannot wait any longer to see the lifting of the barriers that divide our continent, hinder its economic take-off and perpetuating misery, even though Africa is abundantly endowed with wealth,” Mahamat said.
Concerns remain. The president of Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies, skipped the summit amid trade unions’ objections. “We will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods,” President Muhammadu Buhari stated.
And while Africa’s largest economies are expected to benefit most from the deal that progressively eliminates tariffs and other trade barriers, some of them worry that more people from poorer countries will migrate their way.
However, lemonwire.com reports that some of the continent’s strongest and fastest-growing economies, including Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia, signed the deal. South Africa’s new president has expressed support but his signing was not announced during the event