The African Union May Have Died with Gaddafi, But African Continental Free Trade Area Is Alive and Well

Before his death, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s most ambitions goals/projects was to unite the continent of Africa by dropping the US dollar in exchange for an entirely new economic system/model called the “African Union” – which would have been similar in many ways to the European Union, just in Africa. In fact, while it is impossible to ever quantify, it has since been argued by many that the only reason Gaddafi was assassinated by Western powers in the first place was to throw Libya into a state of civil/economic chaos, and therefore prevent the Union from forming well before it could ever begin.

Regardless, earlier this month the Governments of South Africa and Togo agreed to ratify a document known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), growing the combined total of state signatures to 49. As was reported by Tralac, the African Trade Law Centre, “the AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.” Once complete, the project plans on making the AfCFTA the single largest free trade zone in the entire world, expected to boost trade inside Africa by up to 52.3%, eliminate the current 6.1% tariff imposed on African nations by foreign traders, and bring in untold amounts of new manufacturing jobs/opportunities throughout the continent. Organizers also hope to establish an entirely new form of currency for trade members as well, though discussions on what this would look like or entail are still ongoing.

While the AfCFTA was first introduced back in 2012, less than a year after Gaddafi’s death, as of the end of December 2018, 49 of 55 African states have endorsed their full support of the ‘union‘ should it ever be formed – with more expected to sign on throughout the course of 2019. However, as per document/treaty requirements, in order for AfCFTA to officially go into effect, at least 22 member nations must first submit articles of ratification. Earlier this month South Africa and Togo submitted their ratification, bringing the official total to 15. According to the African Union’s (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, he is “confident the remaining votes required to enforce AfCFTA will be secured before the next AU summit in February 2019.

Official Document:

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