AFRICA – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has launched ATEX, a business-to-business e-commerce platform that seeks to facilitate trading between buyers and suppliers after African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comes into effect.

ATEX’s main objective is to improve cross-border trade and provide businesses with quality products from verified African suppliers in an efficient way at reduced average trading costs based on AfCFTA rules.

For the project, ECA has partnered with the Afreximbank, which will serve as broker for most of the payment systems and the logistics.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the AfCFTA is, by the number of participating countries, the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Its implementation will form a US$3.4 trillion economic bloc with 1.3 billion people across the continent.

Set to be fully operational by 2030, the trade area could be the world’s biggest free-trade zone by area, having a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of US$2.5 trillion.

54 of the 55 nations recognized by the African Union have so far signed to join the area, except Eritrea, while 28 have ratified the agreement.

Africa’s intra-continental trade accounts for just 15% of the total, compared with 58% in Asia, and slightly more than 70% in Europe.

The agreement therefore seeks to change that by lowering or eliminating cross-border tariffs on 90% of goods, facilitate the movement of people and capital, promote investment, and pave the way for a continent-wide customs union.

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