Africa's leaders to launch world's largest free trade area at Rwanda meeting

Buhari in Berlin

Among those expected include the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa chief, Vera Songwe, President of African Development Bank Adesina Akinwumi and COMESA Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya.

"AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other global economic blocs", commented AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Each of African countries has to do its part, she said.

"That same goods will surely find its way to Nigeria which is the main target market for the EU", Jacob said.

The draft agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, with 10 per cent of "sensitive items" to be phased in later.

"We must do so rapidly", she said.

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Speaking at the opening session of the Council meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community and Chairperson of African Union Executive Council, Louise Mushikiwabo said that the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement is a historical landmark.

National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba in a statement in Abuja, said that signing the agreement was "extremely unsafe and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative being driven by the Ministry of Trade and Investment that seeks to open our seaports, airports and other businesses to unbridled foreign interference never before witnessed in the history of the country".

The meeting will be preceded by Executive Council meeting which brings together foreign affairs ministers today and a business summit scheduled to take place tomorrow drawing top African business leaders and Heads of State and Government.

Egypt's Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil will participate on Wednesday in an extraordinary African Union Summit in Rwanda's capital Kigali to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) including 55 countries, the ministry said on Tuesday. However the success of the AfCFTA will depend on closer collaboration between policy makers and the private sector.

This comes a day after Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari also opted out of the Kigali conference, saying he wanted further domestic consultation on the continental deal that would remove trade barriers and eventually allow free movement.

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