Nigeria was one of the last nations to sign the agreement. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has about 98 million inhabitants in the most populous countries, Ethiopia and Egypt. With a nominal GDP of $376 billion, or about 17% of Africa`s GDP, it is just ahead of South Africa, which accounts for 16% of the African economy. Given that Nigeria is such an important country in terms of population and economy, its absence at the first signing of the agreement was particularly striking. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted this in his comments of 12 July 2018, commenting: « The continent awaits Nigeria and South Africa. Through trade between us, we are able to maintain more resources on the continent. South Africa signed the agreement later.  At this summit, Benin and Nigeria signed the agreement, so that Eritrea is the only African state not to be part of the agreement; Since then, Eritrea has applied to join the agreement. Gabon and Equatorial Guinea also tabled their ratifications at the summit. At the time of launch, there were 27 states that had ratified the agreement.    The overall objectives of the agreement are:  Eritrea has not signed because of tensions with Ethiopia, but after the Eritrea-Ethiopia Summit in 2018, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry now expects Eritrea to sign the agreement.
 The SAfCFTA secretariat is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and is an autonomous body within the AU system. Although it has an independent legal personality, it will work closely with the AU Commission and receive its AU budget. The Council of Ministers responsible for trade will decide on the headquarters, structure, role and responsibilities.  The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the highest decision-making body. It will probably meet during the AU summit.  The Council of Trade Ministers provides strategic trade oversight and ensures the effective implementation and implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.  Given that the Nigerian government continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was « regrettable » and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  As of July 2019, 54 of the 55 African Union states had signed the agreement, with Eritrea the only country not to sign the agreement. Of these Member States, 27 have tabled their ratification instruments.
  44 countries first signed the agreement on 21 March 2018. Nigeria was one of 11 African Union countries that avoided the signing of 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.  The free trade agreement reduced tariffs to 7,881 categories of goods, or 90% of goods imported to zero.
 This reduction came into effect in China and in the original six ASEAN members: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.