The Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries. The pact connects 1.3 billion people in 55 countries for a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on the introduction of meaningful political reforms and trade facilitation. Maria Filipa Seara e Pereira advises the World Bank in the Trade Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI). It focuses on international trade and international development issues, including modelling, trade policy, trade distribution effects and global value chains. The perimeter of the AfCFTA is important. The agreement will reduce tariffs between Member States and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as hygiene standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would transform markets and economies across the region and boost production in the services, manufacturing and raw materials sectors. Yulia Vnukova advises the World Bank in the Department of Trade and Regional Integration (ETIRI). Based on more than a decade of experience, Yulia`s current work focuses on trade policy and regional integration, focusing on macroeconomic and microeconomic analyses of trade, trade and sectoral competitiveness, global value chains and private sector development in emerging countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Roberto Echandi is the senior private sector specialist at ETIRI.

It focuses on research and policy advice on issues related to cross-border trade in services, negotiations, implementation and maximizing the potential benefits of deep integration trade agreements and the AfCFTA negotiation and implementation process. The World Bank report, The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects, aims to help policymakers implement policies that can maximize the potential benefits of the agreement while minimizing risks. Creating a continental market requires resolute efforts to reduce all business costs. Governments also need to develop strategies to increase the willingness of their workforce to take advantage of new opportunities. 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. Maryla Maliszewska , lead author, is a senior economist in Trade and Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI) at the World Bank. His area of expertise covers various aspects of trade policy and regional integration, with particular emphasis on the impact of trade on poverty and income distribution. 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. Israel Osorio Rodarte is an economist in the Department of Trade and Regional Integration at the World Bank. He has more than 10 years of experience in international development, including economic diversification, structural change and analysis of the distribution of trade and macroeconomic policies.

Factory workers pack products in Accra, Ghana.