Tanzania joins the African Continental Free Trade Area

Tanzania becomes the newest country to join African Continental Free Trade Area. [Image: courtesy]
Tanzania—Minister of Industry and Trade Katila Mkumbo, announced an agreement of Tanzania joining the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a pact connecting countries with a total gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.

AfCTA was first opened for signing in April 2018 but came into application in 2019 after the requisite minimum of 21 of the 55 member states approved it.

Tanzania had not formally joined although former president John Magufuli signed on the agreement in 2019. After signing parliamentary approval is required for ratification of the agreement.

The ratification is an indicator of president Suluhu’s intention to return the country to regional integration. It comes barely two months after the AfCFTA secretary General Wamkele Mene held discussions with President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Mr. Mene sought the assurance of Tanzania’s commitment to the agreement to which president Samia promised to join very soon.

In East Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi already ratified the agreement. The deal, signed by 54 of the African Union’s (AU) 55 member states, commits countries to 90 percent tariff cuts within a five-year period.

Eritrea is the only country yet to join the AfCFTA. Of the 54 countries that signed the deal, only 38 countries including Tanzania have ratified the treaty.

AfCFTA provides a unified market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion and is potentially a strong foundation for industrialization.

Currently, intra-African exports stand at about 17 percent of total continental exports. Increasing this share is expected to increase value addition, help create jobs and boost incomes.