Online Course Making the African Continental Free trade Area (AFCFTA) Work
The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted a decision to establish an African wide Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by an indicative date of 2017. The Summit also endorsed the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) which identifies seven clusters: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration. The AfCFTA will bring together fifty-five African Union Member States with a combined population of more than one billion, two hundred million people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $2.5 trillion. In terms of numbers of participating countries, AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general. The AfCFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources. The establishment of the AfCFTA and the implementation of the Action Plan on BIAT provide a comprehensive framework to pursue a developmental regionalism strategy. The former is conceived as a time bound project, whereas BIAT is continuous with concrete targets to double intra-African trade flows from January 2012 to January 2022.
The African Union Assembly launched the continental free trade area negotiations at the 25th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on 15 June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This decision marked a significant step towards advancing Africa’s regional integration and development agendas. The AfCFTA offers a window of opportunity for African countries to boost intra-African trade, to diversify, structurally transform, and meet the important development goals the continent is committed to under its Agenda 2063 – of which the AfCFTA is a flagship project – and the global Agenda 2030. The AfCFTA’s first priority is to broaden Africa’s economic and market space. It has other priorities such as addressing supply-side constraints, weak productive capacities and infrastructural bottlenecks.
AfCFTA negotiations cover a broad scope of issues, and are divided into two phases. Phase I which was successfully concluded, covers trade in goods and trade in services. Issues negotiated relating to goods include tariff reductions, non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, customs cooperation, trade remedies, standards and technical barriers to trade. The second Phase which is about to start, will include negotiations on investment along with other issues like competition policy, intellectual property rights and movement of business persons. The AfCFTA is more than a trade agreement. Its wide scope – covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights – provides a platform to facilitate the inclusive structural transformation of African countries.
African leaders held an Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from 17-21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, during which the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA was presented for signature, along with the Kigali Declaration and the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment. In total, 44 out of the 55 AU member states signed the consolidated text of the AfCFTA Agreement, 47 signed the Kigali Declaration and 30 signed the Protocol on Free Movement. To date fifty four (54) countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement and twenty seven have ratified beyond the 22 ratifications required for the treaty to come into force.
In the view to provide policymakers, private sector actors with the clear understanding of the AfCFTA objectives, negotiations and impact on the country socioeconomic transformation, the African Trade
Policy Center (ATPC) in collaboration with IDEP is looking for highly qualified in-class and on-line modules courses developer and delivery on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
At the end the course, participants will be provided not only a general and comprehensive overview of regional trade agreement, but also the various steps needed and the role of various stakeholders including the media and private sector and other non-state actors to make it a success. A particular emphasis should be put on the development of national strategies to fully utilize the opportunities of AfCFTA.
At the end of this online course, participants should be able to:
- Appreciate the role that regional integration could play in Africa’s economic growth and development
- Understand the arduous process leading to the AfCFTA, and the way forward
- Recall and understand key provisions of the AfCFTA agreement and its protocols
- Critically assess what it would take for the AfCFTA to deliver on its promises
- Evaluate the likely impacts of the AfCFTA — both in terms of gains and losses — on their respective country
- Recommend, as part of a country AfCFTA strategy, measures that their government could take to leverage the opportunities arising from the AfCFTA and mitigate any short-term costs
- Explain the fundamentals of the AfCFTA and its potential impacts to other interested parties.