In addition to the effects of the pandemic, there is also the continent`s existing commercial architecture to overcome. Today`s regional trade agreements “show narrow trade patterns, depend on primary products and have a low level of intermediate trade,” said William Amponsah, a trade expert quoted by the United Nations. In fact, intra-African trade is dominated by a handful of countries that sell a handful of products. Although this situation is improving, there remains a problem that a simple increase in intra-African trade would not solve. The need for education and engagement in the public and private sectors also underscores the importance of bringing stakeholders together to talk, ask questions and make different points of view understood. That is why last week`s African Trade Forum in Lagos, Nigeria, could not have come at a better time. Organized by the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment and organized by the Rockefeller Foundation with the CEC and the African Union Commission, the forum was the best opportunity to bring together representatives from all trade sectors. The free trade area can only enter into force if all protocols from at least 22 countries are finalized and ratified. Forty-four countries initially signed the agreement on March 21, 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries to avoid signing the treaty. At the time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria could do nothing to undermine local producers and entrepreneurs. [53] The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association, which represents 3,000 Nigerian manufacturers, welcomed the decision to withdraw from the agreement. [53] Nigeria`s foreign minister tweeted that more internal consultations are needed before Nigeria can sign the agreement.

[54] Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Nigeria`s delay was regrettable. [55] The Nigerian Labour Congress called the agreement a “renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal political initiative”, suggesting that increased economic pressure would push workers to rush into difficult and precarious conditions. [56] The agreement was negotiated by the African Union (AU) and signed on 21 March 2018 by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda. [15] [16] The agreement first requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to goods, goods and services across the continent. [15] The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022. [17] The proposal is expected to enter into force 30 days after ratification by 22 of the signatory states. [15] On 2 April 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd state to ratify the Convention[18] and on 29 April, the Sahrawi Republic tabled the 22nd filing of ratification instruments; The agreement entered into force on 30 May and entered its operational phase following a summit on 7 July 2019. [19] In agriculture, intra-African agricultural trade is particularly under-exploited due to high import tariffs, other non-tariff barriers (such as health and safety standards), low productivity and lack of connectivity with rural areas.