ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- As trading under AfCFTA commenced on Friday, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, has called for close cooperation between the private and public sector for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to deliver its promises.
Songwe has hailed the role of AfCFTA in boosting investment, innovation and ultimately growth and prosperity for Africa.
Trading under AfCFTA was marked by transaction, whereby the Ethiopian Airlines transported the first batch of goods, for which a ceremony was held on Friday at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia's capital.
Trading was initially scheduled to start on July 1, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the date to be moved forward by six months.
Speaking at the ceremony held on the premises of Bole International Airport, Ethiopian Minister of Trade and Industry, Melaku Alebel, noted that though delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of the AfCFTA has come at the right time for people to trading with fewer barriers between them.
The Minister has also hailed the role of the AfCFTA in creating more employment opportunities for African youth, additional destinations of products within Africa, and technology transfer among others.
According to ECA, the Commission through its African Trade Policy Centre has been working with the AU to deepen Africa's trade integration through the effective implementation of the agreement by supporting the AfCFTA ratification process through policy advocacy.
The ECA is also assisting the member states to develop national strategies for the implementation of the AfCFTA in partnership with AU, International Trade Centre (ITC), UNCTAD and a selection of independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union (EU).
With 54 member states signing it of which 34 had ratified, the agreement was a strong signal that Africa was ready to commence trading on the basis of new rules and preferences that would ensure an integrated African market.
The AfCFTA is the largest trading agreement in the world in terms of participating members since the creation of the World Trade organization (WTO) with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a 2.5 trillion U.S. dollar economic bloc and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction.