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Africa officially becomes worlds largest free trade zone

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) finally came into being on Thursday, opening the way for a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion.

Fifty-two of the African Unions (AU) 55 member states have signed the deal, which is expected to boost regional and international trade. It will be the largest free trade agreement by population that the world has seen since the 1995 creation of the World Trade Organization.

“This is a historic milestone!” the AUs commissioner for trade and industry Albert Muchanga proclaimed on Twitter.

“We celebrate the triumph of bold, pragmatic and continent-wide commitment to economic integration,” he tweeted.

Historic milestone! #AfCFTA Agreement has today come into force. We celebrate the triumph of bold, pragmatic & continent-wide commitment 2 economic integration. We launch market on 7 July, 2019 & begin the journey of transformation 2 secure inclusive prosperity. @_AfricanUnionpic.twitter.com/MKHBtaHlAh

— Amb. Albert Muchanga (@AmbMuchanga) May 29, 2019

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The agreements operational phase will be launched on July 7 at an AU summit in Niger, and there are still some issues to be resolved.

Chinese ambassador to the African Union Liu Yuxi welcomed the agreement, saying it will help forge closer economic and trade ties with China.

“It is a milestone in Africa which has in recent years been upholding the banner of unity and promoting economic integration,” Liu said, adding that the sides are expected to “build closer economic and trade ties by developing the free trade area and promoting the Belt and Road cooperation.”

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