African free trade bloc opens for business

New Year's Day marked the dawn of a new era for trade in Africa.

A new continent-wide free trade area came into force, after months of delays.

Experts view the launch as largely symbolic, with full implementation of the deal expected to take years.

But the World Bank estimates it could lift tens of millions out of poverty by 2035.

The African Continental Free Trade Area aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc.

That would make it the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.

Backers say it will boost trade among African neighbors, while allowing the continent to develop its own value chains.

But obstacles remain and must be overcome if the bloc is to reach its full potential - from red tape and poor infrastructure, to entrenched protectionism of various members.

Every African country except Eritrea has signed on to the framework agreement, with 34 already having ratified it.

Video Transcript

[MACHINE RUNNING]

- New Year's Day marked the dawn of a new era for trade in Africa. A new continent-wide free trade area came into force, after months of delays. Experts view the launch as largely symbolic, with full implementation of the deal expected to take years. But the World Bank estimates it could lift Tens of millions out of poverty by 2035. The African Continental Free Trade Area aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. That would make it the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. Backers say it will boost trade among African neighbors, while allowing the continent to develop its own value chains. But obstacles remain and must be overcome if the bloc is to reach its full potential from red tape and poor infrastructure, to entrenched protectionism various members. Every African country except Eritrea has signed on to the framework agreement with 34 countries already having ratified it. [MACHINE RUNNING]