Despite MAN`s concerns, Ms Songwe insists that the agreement provides integrated protection for vulnerable sectors. “The agreement also expressly recognizes and provides special protection for threatened child industries as well as for key security interests or circumstances of critical balance-of-payments difficulties,” she said. The framework itself stipulates that by 2022, participating countries will have to remove tariffs on 90% of the products they produce and eliminate non-tariff barriers, such as border duty delays, import quotas, subsidies, regulatory bottlenecks, etc. EU trade aid supports AfCFTA`s objectives, for example in West Africa, where a EUR 92 million programme aims to increase competitiveness and trade by using regional trade opportunities and creating a safe trading environment for small traders, especially traders. On July 21, 2018, five other nations signed the agreement, including South Africa. At the time, the Nigerian government stressed that its non-participation was a delay, not a withdrawal, and promised to sign the agreement quickly. [57] As the Minister of Foreign Affairs had previously pointed out, the Nigerian government intended to continue its discussions with local businesses to ensure the purchase of the agreement by the private sector. [58] 44 countries first signed the agreement on March 21, 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries to avoid signing the treaty. At the time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria could do nothing to undermine local producers and entrepreneurs. [53] The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association, which represents 3,000 Nigerian manufacturers, welcomed the decision to withdraw from the agreement. [53] Nigeria`s foreign minister tweeted that more internal consultations are needed before Nigeria can sign the agreement. [54] Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Nigeria`s delay was regrettable.

[55] The Nigerian Labour Congress called the agreement a “renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal political initiative”, suggesting that increased economic pressure would push workers to rush into difficult and precarious conditions. [56] The Free Trade Area can only enter into force if all protocols from at least 22 countries are finalized and ratified. The Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) [9] is a free trade area with 28 countries from 2018. [1] [10] [11] [12] It was created by the African Free Trade Agreement between 54 of the 55 african union nations. [13] The free trade area is the largest in the world, in terms of the number of participating countries since the creation of the World Trade Organization. [14] Accra, Ghana, is the secretariat of AFCFTA and was commissioned by Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo on 18 August 2020 in Accra and handed over to the AU. Forty-four African countries have recently signed a Framework Protocol for the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that brings the continent closer to becoming one of the largest free trade zones in the world.