Issue Brief on “Expanding Economic Opportunities: Pakistan and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement”

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The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) marks a significant milestone for the African economy, fostering regional economic integration, growth, and development across the Continent.[1]  AfCFTA is a free trade agreement among African countries, which aims to create a single market for goods and services, promoting intra-African trade, and boosting economic integration across the Continent. The agreement was signed on 21 March 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda, and entered into force on 01 January 2021.[2] AfCFTA is considered as one of the largest free trade areas globally in terms of the number of participating countries. As of November 2022, fifty-four out of fifty-five African Union (AU) Member States had signed the AfCFTA, and forty-four had deposited their instruments of ratification.[3] This agreement presents Pakistan with a unique opportunity to strengthen its trade and investment ties with African nations, creating new prospects for businesses, and fortifying overall economic bonds with Africa. Especially, it can play a pivotal role in the successful implementation of ‘Engage Africa’ policy, and further enhance avenues for mutually-beneficial collaboration. It would enjoy access to the African market, which comprises over 1.2 billion individuals and boasts a combined GDP, surpassing $3 trillion.[4]

AfCFTA is primarily designed to establish a unified continental market for goods and services, facilitating the free movement of businesses, people, and investments. By dismantling trade barriers in order to promote and facilitate trade within Africa, the agreement aims to amplify intra-African trade by a projected 52.3% by the year 2035.[5] This will open substantial opportunities for Pakistani businesses, allowing them to leverage their strengths and tap into an expanded market.

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