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Sierra Leone signs The Afican Continental Free Trade Agreement

06 August 2018
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Sierra Leone has become the latest country to subscribe to the trade treaty seeking a unified African market. President Julius Maada Bio appended his signature to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott on Monday, State House in Freetown disclosed. President Bio, in office for just four months, was making his maiden appearance at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly.

The theme was: ‘Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’

President Bio is the head of the AU’s Committee of Ten on the Reform of the United Nations Security Council, a position he inherited from his predecessor Ernest Bai Koroma.

Free movement

He is also chairman of the AU Peace and Security Council, under which he chaired several sideline meetings. AfCFTA promises to break the cross-border trade barriers to ensure productive economic activities among member countries. It specifically aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments, and thus paving the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union.

The deal initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90 per cent of goods to allow free access to commodities and services across the continent.  AfCFTA's overall goal is to bring together the 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion, the AU says.

If successfully implemented, analysts say, it could increase the economic diversification and intracontinental trade significantly. And a study attributed to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) notably says that AfCFTA could lead to a 52 per cent increase above the baseline in intra-African trade flows by 2022.

The agreement, which was first unveiled at an extraordinary summit of the AU Heads of State and Government in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, earlier in March, will create what has been described as potentially the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

New government

Sierra Leone was in the middle of its elections at the time which ushered in a new government.

Freetown State House said Monday in a statement that President Bio’s ascension to the agreement signifies his commitment to his “ambitious agenda” to ensure that it has access to the rest of the continent’s market and use trade and investment to revitalise its economy.

The agreement had been signed by 44 member countries in Kigali.

Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda were first to sign and ratify the agreement.

It requires 22 ratifications by members for the treaty to come into effect.

( article By KEMO CHAM Nation Media Group )
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  • Intra-African Trade Gets $1 Billion Push

    Intra-African Trade Gets $1 Billion Push

    The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa SOC Limited (ECIC), yesterday, Johannesburg, unveiled a $1billion financing programme to promote and expand trade and investments between the country and the rest of Africa.

    The financing, under the South African-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (SATIPP), Afreximbank and ECIC will work together to identify, prepare and appraise trade transactions and projects.They will also explore co-financing and risk-sharing opportunities, as well as share knowledge, with particular emphasis on intra-African trade matters, through technical cooperation, staff exchange, research and joint events.

    This is coming few weeks after the continent's largest trade bank, reiterated its cooperation with Nigeria's quest for development and offered to arrange financing of up to $1 billion to support investments in trade enabling infrastructure.The pan-African multilateral lender said that its facilities had made major impact on critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, while the institution now has loans outstanding of about $3.5 billion in the country as at 31 December 2017.

    The bank identified the benefiting sectors of its to include financial institutions, transport, hospitality, manufacturing, agro-allied, oil and gas, power, and telecommunications.But addressing the business community, media and stakeholders from the public and private sectors, the President of Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, said that the joint initiative would support businesses through capacity building and market information initiatives and would help small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to join regional supply chains.

    It would also provide advisory services and guarantees to South African investors seeking trade and investment opportunities in Afreximbank's regional member countries.According to him, the initiative provides a platform for the realisation of Afreximbank's strategic objectives in line with its strategy- Impact 2021: Africa Transformed, which prioritises intra-African trade, industrialisation and export manufacturing.

    The Chief Executive Officer of ECIC, Kutoane Kutoane, said: "We realise that one of the best ways to enhance our exporting capabilities as a country is by intensifying mutually beneficial trade with the rest of the continent." Today, Afreximbank commenced its yearly general meetings in Abuja, slated for July 11 to 14, while it also has the Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo slated for December 11 to 17, in efforts to promote trade among African countries.

    Oramah said the trade fair, being promoted in collaboration with the African Union and the Egyptian government, would be the continent's single largest trade fair and the first of its kind.It will feature a seven-day trade show where Nigerian businesses could join others to showcase their capital goods and service offerings to a large market, including private sector corporates and government institutions from up to 55 African countries.

    Read the original article on Guardian.
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