The Secretariat of the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has officially opened its doors in Accra, Ghana, an important step in the full implementation of the free trade agreement. The SAfCFTA secretariat is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and is an autonomous body within the AU system. Although it has an independent legal personality, it will work closely with the AU Commission and receive its AU budget. The Council of Ministers responsible for trade will decide on the headquarters, structure, role and responsibilities.  The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the highest decision-making body. It will probably meet during the AU summit.  The Council of Trade Ministers provides strategic trade oversight and ensures the effective implementation and implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.  The reasons for this neglect of these neighbouring markets are quite clear and go beyond the usual considerations of low per capita income. On the one hand, Ethiopia has a fairly protectionist customs policy, with high levels of tariffs in some sectors. However, members of the East African Community (EAC) such as Kenya (not Ethiopia) currently apply a high external tariff on imports of Ethiopian products, although both countries are members of the Common Market for East and South Africa (COMESA) regional grouping. This is because Ethiopia has not yet joined the comesa and, therefore, relatively high tariffs are still applied to bilateral trade.
A similar problem concerns trade between Rwanda and Uganda with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – all members of COMESA, but the Democratic Republic of Congo has not yet joined the free trade agreement. In March 2018, three separate agreements were signed at the 10th African Union extraordinary meeting on AfCFTA: the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the Kigali Declaration; and the protocol on the free movement of people. The Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons aims to create a visa-free zone within AfCFTA countries and to support the creation of the African Union passport.  At the Kigali Summit on 21 March 2018, 44 countries signed the AfCFTA, 47 signed the Kigali Declaration and 30 signed the protocol on the free movement of persons. Although a success, there were two remarkable holdouts: Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest economies in Africa.   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.   The agreement first requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to goods, goods and services across the continent.  The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52% by 2022.
 The proposal is expected to enter into force 30 days after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.  On 2 April 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd state to ratify the Convention 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.  Economic Integration Forecast Models General Balance Models International Trade Open Economies Structural Adjustment Trade Models Trade Finance Trade Negotiations Wellness expert Roberto Echandi is a leading private sector specialist at ETIRI.