• Of the 55 members of the African nations, 49 members have signed the continental trade deal.

Nigeria, the Africa's biggest economy is still consulting on the terms and conditions of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement as a total of forty-nine countries signed the deal.

Paul Kagame, Rwandan president and AU chairperson, made the announcement in Nouakchott, Mauritania at the end of the 31st summit of the 55-member African Union on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.

He said out of the 55 members of the African nations, 49 members have signed the continental trade deal.

The new countries that signed the deal at the just concluded 31st summit are South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi, and Namibia. Also, Chad and Swaziland ratified the agreement, which brings the total number of ratification to six.

A minimum of 22 ratifications is required to enable the AfCFTA to come into force, while 15 ratifications for the protocol on free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment.

Meanwhile, Chiedu Osakwe, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator disclosed on Monday, July 2, 2018, that the federal government is considering a law or an executive mandate to enable it to operationalise a trade remedy infrastructure and sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) pending the outcome of stakeholders' consultation.

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According to Businessday, Osakwe said the trade remedies infrastructure was necessitated by concerns raised by stakeholders, particularly industry operators on efficient safeguards that protect the local industries before going ahead to sign the AfCFTA.

“There is a heightened determination to sign the agreement, but questions about when we will join is a political decision by the government.”

“And that decision will be taken when we have adequately responded to the concerns of private sector investment holders and as you noticed a number of the concerns are not matters for the Trade Negotiations office, power, border security, the domestic market,” he further noted.

The AU will now be expecting Africa's biggest economy to join the trade pact.

The AfCFTA is expected to create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars, according to the pan-African bloc.

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