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The Largest Free Trade Deal in Nearly a Quarter-Century Seeks to Make Africa a Single Market

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The Largest Free Trade Deal in Nearly a Quarter-Century Seeks to Make Africa a Single Market

The U.S. ditched the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while across the Atlantic, the U.K. is trying to extract itself from the European Union and its single market.

But while free trade is under threat in much of the world, African countries are heading in the other direction: the continent is on track to create the largest free trade agreement by population that the world has seen since the 1995 creation of the World Trade Organization. That organization has 164 member countries.

On May 30, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will become a reality. All but three of Africa’s 55 countries have signed up, creating a free trade area that covers more than a billion people and a collective GDP of over $2 trillion, and includes most of Africa’s largest economies, including South Africa and Egypt. If hold-outs Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria—Africa’s largest economy—join in, that’s a total of 1.2 billion people and $2.3 trillion in GDP.

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