Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi chairs 12th Summit of the African Union on Niamey, Niger July 7, 2019 (Photo Courtesy of Egyptian Presidency)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will chair on Monday a coordinating meeting which will bring together heads of various African countries and leaders of African economic blocs as part of the African Union (AU) summit taking place in Niger on 7-8 July to launch the long-awaited-African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The meeting will be attended by the heads of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), among others.
The coordination meeting will seek to develop AfCFTA-related frameworks and foundations for integration with tools for common action in the coming period.
On Sunday, President El-Sisi, who currently chairs the African Union (AU), affirmed during the summit's opening ceremony that the AfCFTA will reinforce African countries' negotiating position on the international stage.
Around 4,500 delegates and guests – including 32 heads of state and more than 100 ministers – attended the AU 12th summit in Niamey.
The agreement was formalised at the end of May when it crossed the launch threshold, which required ratification by at least 22 countries.
Considered the largest trade bloc since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1994, the AfCFTA seeks to triple the volume of intra-African trade from 17 percent to 60 percent by 2022.
The 55-nation trade block aims at reducing imports, improving productive and manufacturing capacities and supporting infrastructure projects in Africa.