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"Historic pact" on pan-African free trade area to be signed in March: AU chairperson

(Xinhua)    10:11, February 13, 2018

KIGALI, Feb. 12-- Rwandan President and AU Chairperson Paul Kagame on Monday said a "historic pact" on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) "will be signed" in Rwandan capital city Kigali in March.

The agreement is expected to get signed at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU), said Kagame at the 42nd Annual General Assembly of the Federation of African National Insurance Companies (FANAF), which opened on Monday in Kigali.

"This is a historic pact which has been nearly 40 years in the making, and it represents a major advance for African integration and unity," said the Rwandan leader.

He noted that the progressive trade liberalization Africa expects in the years ahead will mean new opportunities for African firms to compete and cooperate across borders and build continental reach.

"We will need to harmonize our regulations, and fully implement CFTA in order to get the economic benefits which our people expect and even deserve," said Kagame, who is serving the term of the AU chairperson for the year 2018. "I therefore want to ask for your active support, throughout the ratification and implementation process."

The decision to establish the CFTA by an indicative date of 2017 was adopted in January 2012 at the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to the AU, the CFTA will bring together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than 1 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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