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African free trade agreement looks easy but complicated – French Ambassador to Ghana

The French Ambassador to Ghana, Anne Sophie Ave has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came into full force on January 1, 2021, will take more time to settle down as the regional integration policy in her view could be more complicated than estimated.

AfCFTA seeks to harmonise 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc with hopes that the agreement will become the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.

However the French diplomat while touching on the prospects of the agreement in an interview on with Harriet Nartey on Pan African Television’s Diplomatic Affairs programme Saturday, January 16, 2021, noted that “it seems to be very easy. Truth is it’s a bit complicated because some products you really want to protect, you want to protect a part of your industry, each country has specificities that they want to keep and how do you do with your currency? And how do you do with the infrastructures? If you say you want to trade more amongst ourselves but if you don’t have the proper infrastructures how do you do that?” she quizzed.

Although these are imminent challenges that pose threats to a smooth rollout of AfCFTA the ambassador explained that “there is a path to get there and that is where we are ready to help. We want to partner with these countries”.

Commenting on whether Africa should be drawing lessons from the European Union, Anne Sophie Ave called for the agreement to develop to suit the unique opportunities and challenges in Africa while liaising with other economic blocs to pick up vital lessons that could give a further boost to intra-Africa trade.

Source: Diplomatic Affairs

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