His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio on Sunday 1st July has signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement which was tabled by the Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Dr. Namira Negm, would break the cross-border trade barriers for productive economic activities among African countries.
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 economic revitalization in Sierra Leone.
One of the objectives of the Continental Free Trade Agreement is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave 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, two other critical objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will be: 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 about 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.
His Excellency President Bio’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has demonstrated 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.