44 African Countries Sign Free Trade Agreement without Nigeria, South Africa

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The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement was on Wednesday signed in Kigali, Rwanda by leaders from 44 African countries to form a $2.5 trillion continental free-trade zone while Nigeria and South Africa, the continent’s largest economies, were absent.

The agreement was signed during the African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The free-trade zone had been described as the largest in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.

Deliberations on the free-trade zone agreement which started in 2015 had projected to capture 55 countries however had only 44 countries signed up for the agreement.

President Muhammadu Buhari had scheduled to attend the summit and sign the agreement after the Federal Executive Council gave its approval at its March 14 meeting, the trip was however cancelled on March 18 without any reason.

However, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that his country will join the agreement when the necessary legal processes are concluded.

“President Ramaphosa has undertaken that South Africa will become a signatory to the agreement once the legal and other instruments associated with (the trade bloc) are processed and ratified by South African stakeholders and parliament,” he said.

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