By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report
The target of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is to achieve zero duty on 97 percent of all products traded in Africa in the next 15 years, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, has stated.
Mene who is currently on an official tour to Nigeria, speaking in Abuja, said “the ambition was by 15 years from now 97 percent of products traded in Africa should be at zero duty. It is a very ambitious objective which would boost intra-Africa trade by reducing barriers to trade.
“I think Africans should be patient and understand that we are in the initial stages of significance to go together under a single set of rules.”
He further stated: “We will learn from the experience of European Union (EU) that it has taken the EU 72 years to get to this point of market interventions that it enjoys today.
“What we are doing is not an easy task, it is time consuming, and it requires patience to see results in years to come. I am not worried about the slowness because typically negotiations and implementation of trade agreement is not something that happens overnight.”
Meanwhile, Mene said 38 countries have so far deposited their instrument of ratification of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.
He stated: “We are still waiting for others to ratify the agreement. But I am not worried that we are about 38 because in ratifying any international instrument, processes including legal and political processes needed to be followed for a country to be in a state of readiness.
“There are countries that are ready with custom’s infrastructure that is required to be able to trade in a commercial and meaningful sense, examples are South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. These are countries that have introduced the necessary customs procedures for the trading to start happening.”
The Secretary-General noted that the agreement is at the initial stages of the implementation, and also negotiating outstanding areas of phase one which comprised trade in goods and services.