The African Union has made a ‘historic milestone’ as the African free-trade zone has been signed into effect. The agreement works to boost intra-African trade with the progressive elimination of tariffs by forming a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth around £2 trillion. Advocates for the agreement argue that it will help African countries focus on foreign market integration through economic solidarity rather than the longstanding practice of African economies being driven by resource exploitation. The operational phase is to launch July 7 at an AU summit in Niger; however, a number of outstanding issues still require resolution including arbitration measure, certifying the origins of goods, tackling corruption and improving infrastructure. Critics also voice concerns about poor infrastructure and a lack of diversity between economies as being a barrier to successful continent-wide trade integration. The agreement also accompanies huge investment into the African markets from countries such as China, which recently saw their biggest telecom company Huawei strike a deal with the African Union to build more than 50 3G networks across the continent. After a blacklisting of Huawei by the US for allegations of spying, China looks to be fighting efforts to disrupt operations in an increasingly entrenched trade war.