Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told Kigali media: “This is where our salvation lies: trade between them and therefore the development of our economies. This agreement will lead to a change in the perception of the continent by the rest of the world. The general objectives of the agreement are: The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association (MAN) has commended the Nigerian government for not signing the framework protocol because the proposed agreement is said to be vague on market access and the application of rules of origin. The signing of the framework protocol will not immediately create a free trade area. Countries have yet to conclude negotiations on protocols on trade in goods and services, intellectual property rights, investment and competition. Given that hundreds of free trade zones are currently in force and are being negotiated (approximately 800 according to the original intermediary rules for ITC, including non-reciprocal trade agreements), it is important for businesses and policy makers to keep their status in mind. There are a number of free trade agreement custodians available at national, regional or international level. Among the most important are the database on Latin American free trade agreements, established by the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) , the database managed by the Asian Regional Integration Center (ARIC) with information agreements concluded by Asian countries and the portal on free trade negotiations and agreements of the European Union. Guillermo Arenas is an economist in the Trade and Regional Integration Unit (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. Economists have tried to assess the extent to which free trade zones can be considered public goods. First, they deal with a key element of free trade zones, the system of on-board tribunals, which act as arbiters in international trade disputes.
This system, as a force for clarifying existing statutes and international economic policies, as confirmed in trade agreements.  The creation of free trade zones is seen as an exception to the nation`s most privileged principle (MFN) in the World Trade Organization (WTO), as the preferences that parties to a free trade area agree to each other go beyond their membership obligations.  Although GATT Article XXIV authorizes WTO members to establish free trade zones or to conclude interim agreements necessary for their establishment, there are several conditions relating to free trade zones or interim agreements leading to the creation of free trade zones. Free trade agreements, which are free trade zones, are generally outside the scope of the multilateral trading system. However, WTO members must inform the secretariat when new free trade agreements are concluded and, in principle, the texts of free trade agreements are reviewed by the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements.  Although a dispute is not the subject of litigation within the WTO`s dispute resolution body, “there is no assurance that WTO panels will comply and refuse to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case.”  Removing import duties could potentially boost intra-African trade by more than 50%, while a reduction in non-tariff barriers will double the volume of trade, notes the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). It argues that a free trade agreement could help “diversify Africa`s exports, reducing the volatility of African economies and leading to more sustainable economic growth.” In other words, the agreement could reduce Africa`s dependence on extractive raw materials such as oil and minerals, whose prices often fluctuate on the international market.