The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTFA) on Monday entered the second last step towards its signing as Foreign Affairs Ministers from across the continent began reviewing the draft.
The session of foreign affairs ministers opened Monday morning at the Kigali Convention Centre with ministers expected to review and adopt the document ahead of Wednesdays signing.
The document was last week reviewed by technicians and later trade and justice ministers from across the continent.
During the reviews, the document was approved but some issues and aspects were referred for consideration by higher authorities.
In the ongoing review by the foreign affairs ministers the remaining contentious issues include: number of signatures required for the agreement to take effect, admissibility of reservations as well as fate of the AfCFTA secretariat.
Countries have been urged by the African Union Commission and other continental trade bodies to look past their fears and interests sign the agreement.
Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Vera Songwe said that the agreement comes at a time when there are instances of trends such as anti-globalisation and protectionism.
“We are currently witnessing some new and quite extraordinary developments in the global economy. In the developed world there is a rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalisation. Although we are not the focus, Africa will not remain untouched,”Songwe said.
The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat urged countries to overcome fears and self-interests as they continue to be barriers of regional trade and growth.
In her speech, Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers said the agreement should come into force as soon as possible.
“By signing and ratifying it, we would signal that we are determined to play our part as a global player while promoting the continent’s economic interests as one, through a single African market,” she said.
Intra-Africa trade currently stands at about 14 per cent with the agreement expected to facilitate an increase to about 52.3 per cent by 2022.