Egypt’s Sisi discusses means to activate African Continental Free Trade Area

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Jan 2021

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt is totally ready to offer its expertise to help activate the free trade area

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi receives Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Wamkele Mene (photo courtesy of the presidency)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi discussed means to activate the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement with Wamkele Mene, the secretary-general of the AfCFTA, during a meeting held in Cairo on Sunday.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Trade and Industry Minister Niveen Gamea, the presidential spokesperson, Bassam Rady, said in a statement.

The meeting comes almost two weeks after the official launch of the agreement.

El-Sisi, during the meeting, asserted Egypt's “full” support for the agreement, which he said represents a promising start to achieve continental integration as well as the desired economic and trade integration for African states.

"Egypt is totally ready to offer its expertise in this respect to activate the free trade area," the president said.

Stability is of supreme importance when it comes to providing a befitting environment to make the agreement work, El-Sisi added.

Mene expressed his appreciation for Egypt's keenness to launch the agreement during his chairmanship of the African Union (AU) two years ago, the statement added.

The agreement establishing the AfCFTA was signed in March 2018 in Rwanda’s Kigali. African countries began officially trading under the agreement earlier this month, following months of delays owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Egyptian foreign ministry, when the AfCFTA agreement enters into force, it will affect more than 1.2 billion people, with a total domestic product of about $3.4 trillion.

Moreover, when operational, the AU says the AfCFTA will be the largest free trade bloc in the world.

The agreement is expected to offer jobs for more than 1.5 billion people, with a projected trade exchange worth $3.4 trillion, the trade committee of the Egyptian Junior Businessmen Association said in a previous statement.

AfCFTA is the biggest trade deal in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1994.

The AfCFTA agreement is merging 54 African countries of 1.3 billion people in one market within an economic bloc with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion, according to the African Centre for Economic Transformation.

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