Photograph — African Union

Zambia is the 19th country to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). President Edgar Chagwa Lungu signed it yesterday in the presence of His Excellency Albert M. Muchanga,  African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, who then signed on behalf of the African Union.

According to President Lungu, Zambia is set to begin the necessary processes to uphold the agreement. The AfCFTA will be sent to Zambia’s institutional mechanism for ratification.

Following the establishment of the AfCFTA in March 2018, Zambia was one of the African countries that didn’t sign the agreement despite signing its declaration. This was largely attributed to negotiations on some of the protocols of the agreement. The country wanted to undertake consultations from major stakeholders in the country before making a decision. 

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a trade agreement between 49 African Union member states with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single-currency union. It was signed at the African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018.  However, signing the agreement does not yet establish the African Continental Free Trade Area. It will function as an umbrella to which protocols and annexes will be added. Once all documents are concluded and ratified by 22 states, the free trade area will formally exist.

Speaking at the summit last year, President Paul Kagame stated that the signing of the CFTA symbolised progress towards the ideal of African unity. “…this agreement is about trade in goods and services. These are the kinds of complex products that drive high-income economies. African workers adding value in Africa. Services offered by African professionals using the latest technologies. Manufactured goods that are Made in Africa,” he said.

The intra-Africa trade deal is expected to raise trade by about 52.3 percent by 2020, according to estimates by the United Nations Economic Commission in Africa (UNECA).

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