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  • African Union (AU) heads of state meet in Niger to sign the AfCFTA. July 4, 2019. Picture is from a Feb. 2019 AU meeting in Ethiopia

    African Union (AU) heads of state meet in Niger to sign the AfCFTA. July 4, 2019. Picture is from a Feb. 2019 AU meeting in Ethiopia | Photo: AU Commission

Published 4 July 2019

Regional development carry the risk of instability that could trigger further terrorism, illegal immigration and human trafficking, the Foreign Minister said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is throwing his support behind the “Silencing the Guns” initiative that urges African nations to retire their weapons and end their bloody fights.

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During the African Union’s (AU) Summit this week in Niamey, Niger, Shoukry encouraged construction and economic development in the region, and doing away with policy and actions by individual governments that encourage instability and could trigger further terrorism, illegal immigration and human trafficking across the continent, the Foreign Minister said.

He urged the AU to cooperate and coordinate with each other and for the eight African economic blocs to develop regional and continental integration as well as infrastructure in both the transport and communications sectors.

The officials gathered at the summit that began Thursday will be to sign into effect the main focus of the gathering, the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) that Shoukry called "peioneering."

Once fully in effect, the AfCFTA will eliminate tariffs between the 55 AU member states, creating a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than US$2.2 trillion.

AU Commission Chief Moussa Faki Mahamat lauded the newly minted accord, saying Thursday its "goal is ultimately to create an integrated, continent-wide market. It’s a remarkable achievement, and one that can even be described as historic.” 

“In spite of the delays, the founding fathers (of the AU) would be happy and bless us from where they are now,” added the commissioner.

The AfCTA aims to phase out all tariffs on commerce between African countries — a goal that backers say could increase trade by more than half.

Only Eritrea and Benin have chosen not to join the zone. 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed concern it could allow neighboring countries to inundate Nigeria with low-priced goods, and confound efforts to encourage moribund local manufacturing and expand farming.

However, after some deliberation, Buhari reconsidered on the condition that it was “frair and conducted on an equitable basis.”

The president said the nation would sign the deal during the AU summit.

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