Kenyan Parliament approves African Free Trade zone pact

Written By: Regina Manyara

The National Assembly has approved the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement that was signed by at least 44 countries in Kigali, Rwanda in March this year.

The Continental Free-Trade Area pact seeks to make Africa the largest free-trade area in the world. The legislators also approved the ratification of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement.

Africa has been pushing for more regional integration by means of its Regional Economic Communities.

In March, forty-four African heads of state and government, including Kenya, met in Rwanda, to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, a long-standing ambition of the African Union.

The landmark agreement targets to increase intra African trade to 52 percent by 2022. After Kenya’s cabinet approved the ratification of the agreement late March, the National Assembly has also approved the same.

The ACFTA pact is expected to establish a single market with duty-free access among traders, in turn spurring industrialization, infrastructure growth and economic diversification across the African continent.

The creation of the ACFTA will consolidate a market of over 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of more than 3 trillion dollars. The House also approved the ratification of the Common Markets for East and Central Africa (COMESA), East Africa Community (EAC), and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement which consists of 26 countries.

This deal seeks to provide a wider market for both manufactured and primary goods for Kenyan products within a single economic space of the three regional economic communities.

Leaders termed the move as progressive and key to increasing intra-African trade which, as of now is riddled with myriad challenges occasioned by multiple memberships to regional economic communities.

Critics have however raised a red flag on inadequate infrastructure as the primary impediment to African trade inside and outside the continent.

First published by The KBC


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