CREATING A UNIFIED REGIONAL MARKET - Towards the Implementation of The African Continental Free Trade Area in East Africa

This report, jointly published by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and Trademark East Africa, provides a first comprehensive assessment of the potential impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on the economies of East Africa. 

The report stresses the ambitious nature of the AfCFTA: it is not simply a question of establishing a ‘free trade area’. It liberalizes service sectors as well as merchandise goods. It aims to simplify investment and intellectual property regimes and create a common platform for competition policy. It includes a Protocol on Free Movement, helping address the skills shortages constraining many sectors of the regional economy.

The report’s simulation work finds that, under conservative assumptions, the implementation of the AfCFTA could result in welfare gains amounting to USD 1.8 billion for East Africa, boosting intra-African exports by more than USD 1.1 billion and creating more than 2 million new jobs. Many of these new employment opportunities will emerge in labour-intensive sectors where there is a heavy predominance of female workers, thereby contributing to the economic empowerment of women. Supporting the need for the economic diversification in the region, manufacturing is likely to be a key beneficiary of the agreement. 

The report concludes with a series of recommendations regarding the way forward with the rapid implementation of the AfCFTA.   

Download the Report