ADDIS ABABA, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Tuesday commended Cameroon for launching its national process toward the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
"We welcome the assurances we got from the minister of trade that Cameroon has launched its national process toward ratification," said director of ECA Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, Antonio Pedro.
"Cameroon plays a very important role in Africa, in general, and in central Africa, in particular, in terms of regional integration as well as intra-regional trade and we would like to see it among the first batch of countries ratifying the agreement - to play its rightful role within the context of Africa's trade agenda," an ECA statement quoted Pedro as saying on Tuesday.
The ECA regional director also referred to recent positive developments in the ratification of the much anticipated continental free trade pact.
"We are very pleased to note that 19 countries have already ratified the AfCFTA instruments, the latest country on the list being Egypt," Pedro said.
The ECA, through its sub-regional office, also expressed its keen interest to accompany Cameroon in creating a "fit-for-purpose national strategy" on the AfCFTA.
"Such a strategy would have to be aligned with the broader development blueprints of the country and should contribute to the emergence of credible regional value chains as well as support intra-Africa trade in intermediate and manufactured products," Pedro said.
Cameroon's Minister of Trade Mbarga Atangana also assured the ECA of the central African country's commitment to the realization of the continental free trade pact.
"Cameroon needs the markets that the African Continental Free Trade Area will create to achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle-income state," and ECA statement quoted Atangana as saying.
The trade minister also stressed that due process has been undertaken to see the ratification of the AfCFTA, which was signed by Cameroon in March last year in Kigali, Rwanda.
So far, 52 out 55 AU members have signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA, which envisaged a common market for the continent's population of more than 1.2 billion.