Photo taken on March 21, 2018 shows a view of the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda. (Xinhua/Gabriel Dusabe)
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to postpone the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was slated to begin on July 1, an official said on Friday.
NAIROBI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to postpone the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was slated to begin on July 1, an official said on Friday.
Prudence Sebahizi, head of AfCFTA Negotiations Unit and chief advisor on AfCFTA, told a virtual meeting that the African Heads of states were supposed to meet for an extraordinary summit on May 30 to approve all instruments required for the start of trade in the continent as a free trade area.
"We currently don't know if the meeting will be held and this might affect the start of trading of the AfCFTA," Sebahizi said during the regional integration and African Continental Free Trade Area forum on the role of the Civil Society Organizations post-COVID-19.
So far all African countries have confirmed COVID-19 cases. Sebahizi noted that negotiations for further liberalization of trade could continue virtually among African countries.
He added that there still remain some areas that are under discussion in order to fully operationalize the free trade of goods and services.
The AfCFTA agreement was adopted by African governments in 2018 and entered into force in 2019.
So far 54 countries have signed the agreement while at least 28 have deposited the instruments of ratification for the accord.
The AfCFTA is expected to be the largest free zone in the world with more than 1.3 billion people. ■