When you ask Mr. Tony Elumelu if Africa will profit from free trade, the Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist does not have to think long.
“If we look at other parts of the world, intra-regional trade helped significantly.
For us to develop in Africa, we must embrace this,” he told DW at the World Economic Forum in Davos and added: “We need to develop and broaden the market. We need to integrate Africa by trade also.”
He might not have to wait much longer for this to happen.
Last year, 49 African countries signed the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement, which is supposed to do away with tariffs on most goods and other trade barriers.
The agreement will come into force once 22 countries have ratified it. With only seven more to go, it might only be a matter of weeks.
So in times when others are erecting trade barriers once again, leaders on the continent are edging closer towards establishing the largest free trade area since the World Trade Organisation’s inception.
It would create a market with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of around three trillion dollars and, according to the African Union (AU), boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent.
As enterprises will get the chance to enter new markets, unemployment is predicted to fall and economic output to go up.
And the effects in the long-run could be even more substantial.
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