Chairperson, thank you for the floor. Excellencies, the launch of the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area is a milestone for our Union.

History will record the central role played by the President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, in bringing us to this point. My brother and friend, I congratulate you.

I also wish to record my thanks to the Government and people of Niger for the warm welcome and excellent facilities we are enjoying.

I commend President Issoufou for his comprehensive report. Rwanda fully agrees with its recommendations. We particularly concur on two points. One, the need to cater for small-to-medium cross-border traders, by simplifying trade regimes applicable to them. Two, the decision to commence trading under the AfCFTA on July 1st, 2020.

I agree with the proposal of the Executive Council designating Ghana as our choice to host the AfCFTA Secretariat. I congratulate them as well.

Our task now is to finalise the remaining negotiations and operational instruments in a timely manner.

I thank you, Chairperson.