【彩神APP官网号码单双_彩神APP官网号码单双官网】AU extraordinary summit kicks off with expectation of launching continental free trade area

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Participants attend a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the African Union (AU) in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 17, 2018. African leaders are expected to sign an agreement that will launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) kicked off here on Saturday. The summit started Saturday with a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the AU, a preparatory meeting of the heads of state and government summit. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran) 

KIGALI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- African leaders are expected to sign an agreement that will launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) kicked off here on Saturday.

The summit started Saturday with a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the AU, a preparatory meeting of the heads of state and government summit.

According to the summit agenda, the PRC meeting will be followed by the 18th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU scheduled on March 19.

Heads of state and government of AU member states will convene for the "historic" signing on March 21, the last day of the summit, read the agenda.

Before the agreement enters into force, AU member states shall ratify the agreement after the signing, according to Rwanda's minister of trade Vincent Munyeshyaka.

The upcoming extraordinary summit of the AU heads of state and government refers to a strong political symbolism -- Africa taking charge of itself, said Quartey Kwesi, deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, at the PRC meeting.

Africa's voice should resonate from a position of strength that is rooted in the effective implementation of projects of continental dimension that contribute to Africa's development, and especially to the consolidation of its integration and unity, said Kwesi on behalf of the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The establishment of the AfCFTA is a critical political priority of the AU leadership, said the chairperson of the PRC Hope Tumukunde at the meeting.

The AfCFTA is a political statement and declaration of the idea of Africa's unity in economic and commercial terms, said Tumukunde, who is also Rwanda's permanent representative of the AU.

Without the AfCFTA and Africa's economic integration, rhetoric about Africa's unity will remain empty, she said.

The AfCFTA is a flagship project of Agenda 2063, the AU's long-term vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organization, according to the AU.

The pan-African bloc said the AfCFTA could create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimated that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-Africa trade by 53 percent by eliminating import duties and non-tariff barriers.