Egypt’s exports to African countries, estimated to be worth $4.7 billion, are projected to double over the coming four years in the event that all the African Continental Free Trade Agreement’s (AfCFTA) stages are fully rolled out, according to the Minister Plenipotentiary and Alternate Chief Negotiator to AFCFTA, Fadel Yacoub.
Yacoub made his comments during a discussion panel held on Monday virtually and organised by the Afro Media Initiative.
Yacoub added that Egypt was among the first African countries to outline all its obligations to the agreement to the African Union Secretary.
Egypt was also one of the first to ratify the agreement in April 2019, becoming one of the 36 African countries, out of 55, to do so.
However, Yacoub said that the AfCFTA faces a number of challenges, especially that total African trade represents only three percent of global trade, while trade within Africa only accounts for eight percent of total African trade with external markets.
He also added that the World Bank estimated the total revenues that the continent is expected to gain from applying the agreement to reach $450 billion, while Africa’s exports are expected to grow to $560 billion annually.
Moreover, the AfCFTA is expected to raise the income level in Africa by 10 percent, up to 20 percent, and to increase the income of about 68 billion inhabitants who live on incomes below $5 per day, said Yacoub.
On the other hand, Minister of Trade and Industry at the AU Hussain Hassan said that the agreement unifies African countries’ GDP, which is worth $3.4 trillion, in one market, which makes this the biggest trade agreement to be reached globally since the founding of the World Trade Organisation.
He added that the next step of the agreement is to establish a unified customs union for African countries, followed by the establishment of a unified African market, the issuance of a unified currency for the continent, and the establishment of an African Central Bank.
Hassan noted that one of the major challenges that the agreement faces is the lack of appropriate road nets, revealing that Africa needs around $80 billion per year to be injected in infrastructure investments.