African leaders have signed what is being called the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization.
The deal creates a continental market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion. A major goal is to boost intra-African trade and rely less on the volatility of commodity prices that affect many exports.
It is not immediately clear when the agreement, signed by 44 of the 55 member states, will enter into force. States now must ratify it.
Concerns remain. The president of Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies, skipped the summit amid trade unions’ objections. And while large economies are expected to benefit most from the deal, some worry that more people from poorer countries will migrate their way.