Eritrea defends decision to sit out Africa free trade pact


Eritrea on Tuesday explained why it has not signed up for the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. The Horn of Africa nation remains the only country yet to sign the agreement let alone deposit instruments of ratification as of July 2020.

According to Information Minister, the country’s posture is ingrained in the government of Eritrea, GOE’s historic stance in advocating regional integration over such continental aspirations.

“In terms of the academic discourse on ACFTA, Eritrea’s long-held stance is crystal-clear. First articulated at the 1994 OAU Summit, GOE’s pragmatic position transcends abstract platitudes to focus on incremental/achievable results; i.e nurturing first the building blocs or RECs,” Yemane Meskel posted in Twitter.

As at October 2019, Eritrea had failed to sign up to the AfCFTA, the agreement achieved maturity on May 30, 2019, after it received the required number of 22 signatories.

in March 2018, 44 government representatives signed the deal at a meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. The official launch slated for this year was pushed to possibly early next year due to disruptions related to COVID-19 pandemic.

West African neighbors Nigeria and Benin were the 53rd and 54th nations to ratify the agreement in June 2019. Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, signed up on June 7, 2019, during an extraordinary African Union, AU, summit in Niamey.

AU head pf Trade Albert Muchanga in a July 2019 tweet said: “Officially confirmed! Benin to Sign AfCFTA Agreement during Niamey Extraordinary Summit & become 54th signatory State. Good development!

“One more signatory state before all 55 African Union Member States are signatories. One African Market in formation,” he said in a tweet. The one more signatory was and still remains Eritrea.

The AU initiative aims to create a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion. Different African countries have made varying levels of commitment.

The highest being the ratification and deposition of necessary documents with the AU. The other class being the signing of the agreement and the non-commitment level being those that have yet to even sign up. (Vanguard)