The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by an indicative date of 2017. The Summit also endorsed the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) which identifies seven clusters: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration. The CFTA will bring together fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.

The main objectives of the CFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources. The establishment of the CFTA and the implementation of the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) provide a comprehensive framework to pursue a developmental regionalism strategy. The former is conceived as a time bound project, whereas BIAT is continuous with concrete targets to double intra-African trade flows from January 2012 and January 2022.

The African Continental Free Trade Area involves 55 member states across Africa, and if signed will be the world’s largest free-trade area, by number of countries. It would establish a single market of more than 1.3 billion people and is expected to be about 2 billion by 2025 with a gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion.

The liberalisation of trade is expected to lead to a predictable environment for investment, industrialisation and value addition. As such it will create opportunities for employment and increased household incomes

Uganda has opportunity for the larger African market for the export of its goods, services and assets. This will create more enterprises, generate incomes and create jobs thus meeting public policy objectives and national aspirations in NDPII and Vision 2040.  In addition to EAC, COMESA and Tripartite markets, Uganda is targeting key markets such as Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Cameroon, Morocco, and Algeria. The following products stand to benefit: livestock products and beef, coffee, tea, fish, steel and iron, dairy, sugar, cement, fruits and juices. Services will include: education, tourism & travel, communication, transport & logistics, financial services, business and professional services, among others.

Uganda has been at the fore front in pursuing regional integration agenda, through the EAC, COMESA and the IGAD, the EAC-COMEA-SADC Tripartite trade negotiation which aims to consolidate our regional trade and therefore sees no contradictions in pursuing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The Cabinet session on 19th March 2018 endorsed Uganda’s signing of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area that will take place on 21st March 2018, in Rwanda Kigali. Uganda delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is currently in Kigali, Rwanda to sign the agreement.

 Uganda Export Promotion Board Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority Management Training and Advisory Centre Uganda National Bureau of Standards Uganda Industrial Research Institute