On 21 March 2018, in Rwanda, the following African countries signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Assembly on the Launch of AfCFTA. The goal of the AfCFTA is to create a single market, followed by free movement and a single currency union. It is understood that the AfCFTA will be “built” in stages and will have protocols (such as Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Intellectual Property Rights; Investment and Competition) and annexes added to it. Once all documents are concluded and ratified by 22 states, the free trade area will formally exist.

Notably absent was Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies and its most populous country. Using Twitter, Nigeria’s President Buhari said that “We will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for finished goods.” Although South Africa did not sign the AfCFTA text, it is committed to signing once internal legal processes are completed.

Click here to view the Signatory table.