Historic African free trade agreement enters into force

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — African leaders are celebrating the entry into force of a continental free trade agreement that creates what they call the world's largest trading market of 1.2 billion people.

The agreement that entered into force on Thursday is meant to take advantage of a booming young population, boost intra-African trade and rely less on the volatility of commodity prices that affect raw materials that make up so much of exports.

With the agreement, countries have committed to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods. Full implementation will take years.

African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat says the continental market has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion.

So far, 52 of the AU's 55 member states have signed the agreement. Noticeably absent is Nigeria, Africa's largest economy and most populous country.

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