Heads of states and governments pose for a group photo before the opening of the African Union (AU) summit at the Palais des Congres in Niamey, on July 7, 2019 (Photo: AFP)
The African Union said parliaments of 27 African states have already approved the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was launched during the extraordinary African summit here on Sunday.
Nigeria and Benin signed the agreement during the summit on Sunday, bringing to 54 the number of countries that ratified the AfCFTA so far, the AU said in a statement on Monday.
The statement referred to the five operational instruments regulating the AfCFTA; the rules of origin, the online negotiating forum, the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, a digital payment system and the African Trade Observatory.
The AfCFTA will be the largest economic bloc since the establishment of the World Trade Organization as it includes 1.2 billion consumers. It 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.
Meanwhile, Ghana was chosen by the participating leaders of the Sunday summit to host the headquarters of the AfCFTA.