AfCFTA State of play: What next after Niamey?
The African Continental Free Trade Area is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten Year Implementation Plan under the African Union Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want. The objective of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with further negotiations planned on the facilitation of intra-African investment, intellectual property and competition. The Agreement paves way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and, ultimately, African Economic Community as envisaged in the Abuja Treaty. Furthermore, the AfCFTA will help to harmonise Africa’s different trade regimes within the continent’s various Regional Economic Communities (RECs). There is no doubt that this will result in a substantial increase in intra-African trade, greater industrial production and a boost to the continent’s GDP (ECA, 2018, AfDB, 2019, ch.3 and IMF, 2019, ch. 3). The AfCFTA will bring together 55 African Member States, whose combined gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at more than US $ 2.3 trillion as of 2018 (ECA, AfDB and AUC, 2019, p.85).