Source: Control Risks.com
The 12th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) which concluded on July 8 at Niamey, the capital of the Niger Republic, saw 54 of 55 of its member states signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for Goods and Services.
- Of these countries, 27 have already ratified it.
- Actual cross-border free trade could start by July 2020 with an elimination of custom duties on 90% of the tariff-lines.
Significance: This project would eventually create an African Common Market of 1.2 billion people and a GDP of over $3.4 billion. The AfCFTA would be the world's largest FTA, and in a world dependent on African markets and commodities, it would have global impact.
- Africa is already an important economic partner for India with total annual merchandise trade estimated at $70 billion or nearly a tenth of our global trade.
- India is Africa’s third largest trading partner. While India’s global exports have been largely stagnant, those to Africa have surged.
India needs to anticipate the AfCFTA’s likely impact on its interests and try to influence and leverage it to enhance India-African economic ties. In principle, African economies becoming more formalised and transparent would be in India’s interest.
About the African Union (AU)
- It is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent.
- It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).
Advent of the AU
- The Sirte Extraordinary Session (1999) decided to establish an African Union
- The Lome Summit (2000) adopted the Constitutive Act of the Union.
- The Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road map for the implementation of the AU
- The Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the 1st Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union.
The Objectives of the AU
- To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa;
- To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;
- To accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
- To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;
- To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;