The general objectives of the agreement are: Maria Filipa Seara e Pereira advises the World Bank in the Department of Regional Integration (ETIRI). It focuses on international trade and international development issues, including modelling, trade policy, trade distribution effects and global value chains. At the summit, Benin and Nigeria signed the agreement, so Eritrea is the only African state not to be part of the agreement; Since then, Eritrea has applied to join the agreement. Gabon and Equatorial Guinea also tabled their ratifications at the summit. At the time of launch, there were 27 states that had ratified the agreement.     Given that the Nigerian authorities continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was “regrettable” and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  The region`s total trade averaged $208.1 billion. Exports are estimated at about $137.3 billion, while imports are about $80.4 billion. The main active trading countries are Nigeria, which alone accounts for about 76% of total trade, followed by Ghana (9.2%) Côte d`Ivoire (8.64%). The region`s trade surplus, estimated at about $47.3 billion, is attributable to Nigeria ($58.4 billion) and Côte d`Ivoire ($3.4 billion) when all other countries have a trade deficit.
Guillermo Arenas is an economist in the Department of Trade and Regional Integration (ETIRI) at the World Bank. His area of expertise covers various aspects of the international economy and public order, including trade policy, export competitiveness and impact analysis. One of the main features of the Community`s trade policy is ECOWAS` trade liberalisation programme. The aim of the programme is to gradually create a customs union between the Member States of the Community over a period of fifteen years, from 1 January 1990, when the regime came into force. The customs union will involve, among other things, the total abolition of tariffs and taxes of equivalent effect. He added that the two countries are now at peace and that Eritrea has asked the AU to conclude the agreement with them. According to a 2014 African Development Bank study, only 16% of African countries` international trade is between African countries. South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed afCFTA at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.  Since July 2019, 54 states have signed the agreement.  The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with West Africa covers goods and development cooperation.
The EPA also offers the opportunity to continue negotiations on sustainable development, services, investment and other trade-related issues in the future. After the Kigali summit, more signatures were added for the AfCFTA. At the African Union summit in Nouakchott on 1 July 2018, five other nations, including South Africa, joined the agreement.