Free trade hopes
A free trade zone officially began under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (also known as AfCFTA) in early 2021, which has been signed by all African countries except Eritrea. Trade under the agreement is supposed to eventually result in a liberalized single market for goods and services, facilitated by the easy movement of people and capital.
In the long-term, the agreement is touted as having the potential to expand manufacturing, reduce poverty and inequality trends, and spur sustainable and inclusive growth.
Because duties and restrictions will fall on goods and services from countries that have ratified the agreement, once the rules of origin are established, this would actually give originating status to products “made in Africa.“ It will encourage and boost intra-African production, intra-African consumption and intra-African export.
Currently, most African countries lack the technical infrastructure needed to support free trade under the agreement.