Paul Brenton is a leading economist in the World Bank`s Trade and Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI). It focuses on analytical and operational work in the area of trade and regional integration. On July 21, 2018, five other nations signed the agreement, including South Africa. At the time, the Nigerian government stressed that its non-participation was a delay, not a withdrawal, and promised to sign the agreement quickly.  As the Minister of Foreign Affairs had previously pointed out, the Nigerian government intended to continue its discussions with local businesses to ensure the purchase of the agreement by the private sector.  The Kigali Summit found areas of convergence with trade protocols, dispute settlement procedures, customs cooperation, trade facilitation and rules of origin. This was part of Phase I of the agreement, which deals with the liberalisation of goods and services. There was also a consensus on reducing tariffs to 90% of all goods. Each nation can exclude 3% of the goods from this agreement.  South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Lesotho and Burundi have since signed the AfCFTA at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.  Since July 2019, 54 states have signed the agreement.  44 countries first signed the agreement on March 21, 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries to avoid signing the treaty.
At the time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria could do nothing to undermine local producers and entrepreneurs.  The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association, which represents 3,000 Nigerian manufacturers, welcomed the decision to withdraw from the agreement.  Nigeria`s foreign minister tweeted that more internal consultations are needed before Nigeria can sign the agreement.  Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Nigeria`s delay was regrettable.  The Nigerian Labour Congress called the agreement a “renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neoliberal political initiative”, suggesting that increased economic pressure would push workers to rush into difficult and precarious conditions.  Complicating matters further is that Africa was already divided into eight separate free trade zones and/or customs unions, with different regulations. [Note 1] These regional bodies will continue to exist; The African Continental Free Trade Agreement aims firstly to remove barriers to trade between the various pillars of the African Economic Community and, finally, to use these regional organizations as building blocks of the ultimate goal of an African-wide customs union.     EU trade aid is a workflow established within the framework of EU development cooperation at continental, regional and national levels. The EU and its Member States remain world leaders in donor aid (32%) with a record level of 13.5 billion euros in 2016. Africa continued to have the largest share.
Nigeria was one of the last nations to sign the agreement. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has about 98 million inhabitants in the most populous countries, Ethiopia and Egypt.