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Kenya joins in continental free trade area

Kenya joins in continental free trade area

Kenya has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty paving way for countries to progressively liberalize trade in services, cooperate on all trade related areas and on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the 44 heads of delegations in the acceding to the landmark decision in Kigali, Rwanda.

 

Among the delegations from 54 African States that attended the African Union (AU) Summit in Kigali, 27 leaders including President Kenyatta signed the second protocol establishing the African Economic Community relating to the free movement of people, right of residence in the signatory countries and right of establishment.

In addition, the Kenyan leader was among the 43 heads of delegations who also signed the third protocol dubbed the “Kigali Declaration” to formally launch the AfCFTA.

All the East African countries (except Burundi which did not attend the Summit) signed all the three protocols. Only 22 member countries were required to sign the agreement to make the AfCFTA treaty operational.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is also the leader of the AfCFTA, described Africa as the continent of the future which will now enjoy higher growth.

“Africa is stronger when we work together. Under the AfCFTA, Africa will be able to export her goods globally at competitive prices,” he said adding, that the new dawn heralds great opportunities for investment.

The AfCFTA aims to establish a single liberalized market that will spur industrialization, infrastructural development, economic diversification and trade across the continent that is home to some 1.2 billion people.

The pact also seeks to promote industrial development through diversification, regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security.

When the AfCFTA pact is fully operationalized in the signatory State Parties, residents of these nations will enjoy the convenience of a single passport and currency.

The Principal Secretary for International Trade Dr. Chris Kiptoo led the Kenyan delegation in the negotiations.

The AfCFTA binds all State parties to eight objectives including the progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods.

The State parties also committed themselves to cooperate on customs matters and the implementation of all trade facilitation measures.

Additionally, African States will establish a mechanism for the settlement of disputes concerning their rights and obligations.

The African nations will further establish and maintain an institutional framework for the implementation and administration of the AfCFTA pact.

Speaking at the ceremony hosted by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who doubles as the African Union (AU) Chairman, various leaders agreed that the new milestone will end the balkanization of the continent into fragmented economies and markets.

President Kagame said the new agreement expresses unity in moving the continent forward with the hope of restoring the dignity of African farmers, traders and entrepreneurs who will be able to market their value-added goods globally.

 

With the population of Africa projected to rise by 600 million people by 2030 bringing the continent’s total population to 1.8 billion, President Issoufou said the continent’s market is set to expand and create more opportunities for its people.


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