The reasons for this neglect of these neighbouring markets are quite clear and go beyond the usual considerations of low per capita income. On the one hand, Ethiopia has a fairly protectionist customs policy, with high levels of tariffs in some sectors. However, members of the East African Community (EAC) such as Kenya (not Ethiopia) currently apply a high external tariff on imports of Ethiopian products, although both countries are members of the Common Market for East and South Africa (COMESA) regional grouping. This is because Ethiopia has not yet joined the comesa and, therefore, relatively high tariffs are still applied to bilateral trade. A similar problem concerns trade between Rwanda and Uganda with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – all members of COMESA, but the Democratic Republic of Congo has not yet joined the free trade agreement. Forty-four countries initially 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.  44 African countries recently signed a Framework Protocol for the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that brings the continent closer to becoming one of the largest free trade zones in the world. Between 2012 and 2014, more than 75% of the continent`s exports were extracts; Yet, during the same period, less than 40% of intra-African trade, according to the African Union (AU), were extracts from de-demerit, underscores the need to boost trade within the continent. A third question is how to conduct future trade negotiations with third parties. Faced with the consequences of a possible exit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025, Kenya has already begun negotiations for a free trade agreement with the United States. The UK, which wants to conclude new trade deals after leaving the European Union, is also moving closer to a number of countries in the region.
Kenya-U.S. The free trade agreement was particularly controversial, but perhaps wrongly: in principle, it does not prevent East African countries from negotiating with third parties. However, for the reasons outlined above with respect to the rules of origin, it is preferable to avoid totally different approaches in negotiations with third parties. “The agreement creates a single market of preferences for goods and services on the continent as a whole and will accelerate continental integration and access to members of regional economic communities who tend to limit the efficiency and effectiveness of these organizations,” she said in a press release. In March 2018, three separate agreements were signed at the 10th African Union extraordinary meeting on AfCFTA: the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the Kigali Declaration; and the protocol on the free movement of people.