Business & Economy - News - March 18, 2021

Nigeria, 43 other countries yet to formally validate African trade agreement

Despite its open acknowledgment of the huge opportunities and benefits, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will offer, Nigeria is yet to officially validate the agreement.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said on Wednesday that so far only 11 African countries have validated the implementation strategies of the agreement.
The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, UNECA, Vera Songwe, who disclosed this at the 39th session of the Committee of Experts on Wednesday did not include Nigeria and 43 others among countries that have so far validated the agreement,
Songwe listed the 11 countries to include Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Niger, Cameroon, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Nigeria was listed among countries that are in the inception phase of validating the agreement.
Others in the category include Tunisia, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania, Botswana, Mozambique and Eswatini.
The executive secretary said there were also countries in the drafting phase of the agreement, namely Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Kenya, Namibia and Malawi.
Songwe said there were no data available for the other countries.
She said the experts’ meeting was convened on the sidelines of the Commission’s 53rd session.
The AfCFTA came into force on January 1 this year, with 54 of the 55 African Union Member States agreeing to signed on it as at February.
To be listed among those that have agreed to be part of the agreement, all 55 member-countries of the AU are expected to officially activate a validation pact consenting to be bound by the agreement,
Also, the UNECA head said 25 countries had signed up to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) with potential savings equal to 0.71 percent of the 2019 Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The World Bank has said that the DSSI is an initiative by the bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging the Group of 20 (G20) to help countries concentrate their resources on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of people.
The initiative which took effect from May 1, 2020, delivered about $5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries.
In his remarks, the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and UNECA, , Tesfaye Sabo, said Africa had made a robust effort under the leadership of the African Union, to grapple with this pandemic and to reduce its socio-economic impact.
Sabo said this was done by working with global partners and through mobilization of the African people.
“These efforts have produced commendable results,” he added.
The permanent representative said the conference was timely and critical for understanding the complex socio-economic implications of the pandemic and to chart a way forward.

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