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Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) started on Jan 1st 2021. Out of the 55 members of the African Union (AU), 54 have signed the treaty, Eritrea being the sole exception. So far, 34 countries have ratified the agreement, including the largest economies in Africa such as Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Although challenges in boosting manufacturing industries and facilitating trade remain, more African countries are expected to join the agreement once the AfCFTA is seen to produce tangible benefits, which will also bring new opportunities for China-Africa cooperation.
African countries are still unable to meet the strong local demand in the short time due to the long-term mismatch of supply and demand. Africa mainly produces primary commodities such as petroleum and mineral products for the international market, while its weak industrial foundation has made local consumption of commodities sluggish. The rise of the middle-income group in Africa has driven up the consumption of automobiles and auto parts, computers, smartphones and electronic devices, as well as clothing and accessories, but the demand has been met through large-scale imports due to the low-level of manufacturing in Africa. With an integrated market, a large number of enterprises targeting the local market will boom. However, trade facilitation calls for steady efforts and time is needed to attract international investment for large-scale industrial production. The agreement may not generate instant profits but will produce benefits someday.
                                                                                                                                    ----- From China Daily Global