There are three different types of trade agreements. The first is a unilateral trade agreement if one country wants certain restrictions to be enforced, but no other country wants them to be imposed. It also allows countries to reduce the amount of trade restrictions. It is also something that is not common and could affect a country. Agenda 2063 aims to bring Africa together in a variety of ways. However, at an AU summit in Niger, the focus will be on a free trade agreement, with little time for other issues. On the other hand, the prospects look promising: if the free trade area is fully implemented, it will offer, according to a new World Bank report, the opportunity to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty. By 2035, revenues on the continent are expected to increase by $450 billion. There is another reason why the pandemic is an opportunity for the free trade area: it has shown the partners – sometimes painfully – what they have forgotten or neglected in the negotiations, for example in the services sector. “We realized that we missed a very important sector, namely the health sector,” says Chief Councillor Sebahizi.
There is no doubt that health will play an important role in future discussions. According to Maryla Maliszewska, an economist at the World Bank and lead author of the report, African countries should have an interest in advancing the free trade area. “Trade is important to build sufficient resilience to future shocks,” the economist said. The idea of trade should not be terrifying until later. “This is a decisive factor in the resumption of the pandemic.” In terms of number of countries, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to become the world`s largest free trade area: 55 countries, 1.3 billion people, a gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion (2,800 billion euros) – these are the basic statistics for afCFTA – from its official launch. But the coronavirus foiled the plans. The EU-Mexico trade agreement will make it easier and cheaper for them to do so. According to her, it is the free trade area that comes into play.
For africa as a whole to benefit from these innovations, fewer barriers to trade are needed. “This is the challenge of regional integration: paving the way for the use of African resources for the good of the entire continent.” The pandemic officially calls for the free trade area to take “a major step forward in the organization of cooperation between African states.”