The implementation of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free-trade bloc, has hit another snag due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Legally, the agreement is already in force but a July 1 deadline had been set aside to iron out several details before the start of trade in goods and services under new tariff rules.
“The COVID-19 situation has caused a major disruption,” Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area, told Bloomberg by text message. “Governments are now engaged in a fight against the pandemic,” he said, without elaborating further.
The African Union was scheduled to have an extraordinary summit in Johannesburg next month to finalise the agreement, but with South Africa still under restrictions that’s closed conference facilities and prohibit public gatherings, it’s unclear whether the meeting will go ahead.