Press "Enter" to skip to content

AfCFTA Secretary General on the new rules for more free trade in Africa

January 1st is known as a historic day for trade and business in Africa. Right?

Claudia Bröll

On January 1st, preferential trading began under the new AfCFTA rules. It is indeed a historic moment for Africa. Of course there was trade between African countries before that, but on a relatively small scale. The difference is that we now have a preferential arrangement that will frame the trade.

So can things really get going in all countries?

This question is asked again and again, and it irritates me a little. For comparison: the creation of a single European market took decades, but Africa is expected to be all set in five years.

What has been achieved so far?

34 of the 54 countries have ratified the agreement. 41 countries or customs unions have submitted their customs clearance lists. In other words: These contractual partners can trade with one another from January 1st onwards according to the agreed tariff advantages. Around 81 percent of the rules of origin are fixed. The states have until the end of June 2021 to negotiate the missing rules of origin and to submit pending customs offers.

Why have the heads of state and government of the African Union announced that they will start free trade on January 1st?

I don’t know of a single trade agreement in which everything was finally settled on the official start date. The negotiations are never finished. The Doha round of negotiations dragged on for many years. Negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the EU lasted ten years, and negotiations continue even after that. Why are we expected to be faster? The rest of the world expects a lot more from Africa than from any other region.

How did the corona pandemic affect the negotiations?

The pandemic has disrupted many parts of the world. We originally wanted to start on July 1st, 2020. But that was not possible because of Covid-19. We lost four to five months on the topics of rules of origin and market access and had to negotiate on virtual platforms. But we tried to catch up as much as possible and requested a rescheduling.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *