Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 July 2018:
Last Sunday, 1st July, President Julius Maada Bio signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Freetown State House media reports.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement was tabled by the Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Dr. Namira Negm.
The aim of the agreement is to break the cross-border trade barriers on productive economic activities among African countries.
According to State House media, the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement by President Bio is part of his ambitious agenda to ensure not only that Sierra Leone has access to the continental market, but also to use trade and investment as oxygen for the revitalization of Sierra Leone’s economy.
One of the objectives of the Continental Free Trade Agreement State House mentions, is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, thus paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
Also, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will look at expanding intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes and instruments, across RECs and across Africa in general.
Furthermore, to address some of the challenges at continental integration and competitiveness, critical objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement are: to resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes; and to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement has created a Continental Free Trade Area which will bring together fifty-four African countries, with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.
According to State House report, President Bio’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement demonstrates his commitment to increase Sierra Leone’s trade and investment opportunities within Africa, promote economic diversification and accelerate industrial development through intra-Africa trade.
It is projected that by 2030, Africa may emerge as a $2.5 trillion potential market for household consumption and $4.2 trillion for business-to-business consumption, Sierra Leone State House reports.