1. African Union (AU)
The African Union (AU) is a continental-wide intergovernmental organization established in July 2002 by the Durban Summit. It is the successor of the prior Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was founded in May 1963 by thirty-two member states’ signatories. There are currently fifty-five member states of the AU, all of which proscribe to the AU’s overall vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” The total GDP of the African Union is $5.458 trillion with a GDP per capita of $4,602. With regard to trade and industry among and between AU member states, the AU seeks to coordinate and harmonize the programs and policies of existing and future REC’s in order to gradually attain the integration of all African states. The AU organs and institutions which oversee the organization’s movement toward this goal include the African Monetary Fund, the African Investment Bank, the Committee on Trade, Customs, and Immigration Matters, the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, and the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).A table indicating all the treaties, a synopsis, number of signatories, ratification status and list of African countries that have not ratified known as the African Union Treaties 1963 – 2018 was recently published by the AU. In March 2018, AU members adopted the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA’s main purpose is to boost trade and economic growth throughout the African continent. Along with the Intra-African Trade Fair and the AfCFTA, the AU has planned events and summits, as well as prioritized trade integration in order to promote Africa’s global competitiveness.
The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) was founded in February 1989 upon the adoption of the Treaty Instituting the Arab Maghreb Union. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. Current members of the AMU include Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, all predominantly Islamic states in Northern Africa. The total GDP for the AMU is $425.7 billion with a GDP per capita of $4,518. The Maghreb states’ purpose in founding the AMU was to promote unity in the region and to strengthen each state’s political and economic institutions so as to encourage collective development.
In order to meet these objectives, the AMU focused on several key goals, including securing long-term peace within the region, emphasizing the member states’ collective similarities, and facilitating the streamlined flow of goods and peoples throughout the Maghreb. To meet these ends, the AMU has established several institutional bodies, including the Maghreb Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade. However, due to recurring conflict among and between the five member states and as a result of complications overcoming their colonial pasts, the AMU member states have fallen short of their original objectives in the nearly 30 years since the AMU’s inception.
With the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011, the regional trade integration and unity receded into the background within the Maghreb, as democracy and the overhaul of existing political regimes came to the forefront. Additionally, the goods exported from all Maghreb states, mostly raw materials, face significant obstacles crossing borders out of their country of origin, which has negatively affected economic growth. Due to the high unreliability of interstate transportation of goods and the lack of cooperation between member states’, the flow of trade between AMU member states is actively weakening. Without any significant meetings in the last ten years, the AMU as a Regional Economic Community, has largely fallen into dissolution.
The Conference of Leaders and Heads of State formally established the Community of Sahel Saharan States (CENSAD) on February 4, 1998 in Tripoli, Libya. It became one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity OAU), held in July 2000. CENSAD has since achieved observer status in the UN General Assembly pursuant to Resolution 56/92. There are thirty member states compromising CENSAD, mostly within Northern and Central Africa, with its headquarters in Tripoli, Libya. The total GDP for CENSAD is $1,350.7 billion with a GDP per capita of $1,363.8.
Since its creation, CENSAD has adopted a newly drafted treaty, which has been ratified by thirteen of the trade bloc’s member states. CENSAD’s new treaty lists its updated objectives, including the promotion of external trade, an increase in all forms of communication among member states, and the eradication of all obstacles in the way of market integration among member states. However, CENSAD’s goal of trade integration has met significant difficulties, mostly stemming from CENSAD’s size. Most of CENSAD’s thirty member states are also members of other smaller Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) which have had more success in trade integration. Therefore, there is little incentive for members to pay their CENSAD dues and to focus on CENSAD-specific goals when their more localized REC’s are flourishing. Additionally, conflicts and instability between and among member states has led to CENSAD’s overall decline in efficiency.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was founded in 1994 as a replacement for the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA), which served as Eastern and Southern Africa’s free trade area since 1981. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. There are currently twenty member states, all within Eastern and Southern Africa. The total GDP for COMESA is $657.4 billion with a GDP per capita of $1,335.
COMESA’s key goals are to support the private sector and to promote sustainable economic advancement through cooperation and joint development. To this end, COMESA established a number of institutions, such as the Trade Development Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa, the COMESA Monetary Institute, and the COMESA Regional Investment Agency, among others. Since COMESA’s inception and creation of subsequent institutions, COMESA has also been able to successfully establish a free trade area among fifteen of its member states, adding to its success, relative to other REC’s, which have been unable to achieve stability and significant trade integration.
In October 2008, COMESA entered into negotiations with two other REC’s, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to form the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA), which would at that point have become Africa’s largest REC. As a member of the TFTA, COMESA member states are working with other African states to promote tariff liberalization and ease of transportation of goods and people across interstate borders.
The East African Community was founded initially in 1967, subsequently suspended operations in 1977, and returned to force in 1999 as a product of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. There are six member states, including the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania, which hosts the EAC’s headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The total GDP for the EAC is $159.5 billion with a GDP per capita of $918.
The EAC’s purpose is to create a Customs Union, a Monetary Union, and to eventually establish a Political Federation of East African States, which will serve as the region’s foremost economic and political trade bloc. In furtherance of these goals, the EAC founded eight subsidiary institutions, including the East African Development Bank, the East African Science and Technology Commission, the Inter-University Council for East Africa, and other measures, such as the Common Market Protocol and the Customs Union Protocol.
In an attempt to promote trade integration, the EAC member states signed the Common Market Protocol in November 2009. This Common Market Protocol, the first of its kind on the continent, aims to transform the existing EAC into a single market. Such an agreement would facilitate the seamless flow of people and goods among and between member states. Although the Protocol has yet to achieve this feat, member states are optimistic about its implications and the EAC remains the highest performing REC with respect to trade integration.
Members of the Customs and Economic Union of Central African States (UDEAC) created the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in October 1983 as a means of forming a more wide-spanning trade bloc for Central African countries. The ECCAS consists of twelve member states, all in Central Africa, with its administrative center in Libreville, Gabon. The total GDP for the ECCAS is $257.8 billion with a GDP per capita of $1,631.4.
Despite its inactivity for a period of years from 1992 until 1999 due to lack of adequate finances and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and general instability in the region, the ECCAS was nevertheless formally designated into the African Economic Community (AEC) as one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities in 1999. Given the ECCAS’s purpose of the gradual creation of a free trade area and a customs union within twenty years of the REC’s inception, trade and market integration are fundamental features of the ECCAS’s goals.
However, despite its efforts, the ECCAS was forced to postpone its plans for a free trade area due to member states’ failure to implement agreed-upon procedures for integration. Therefore, the ECCAS member states together have the lowest share of intra-regional trade compared to the other four other sub-regions. In the meantime, and in order to facilitate both trade and market integration, the ECCAS established several institutions, such as the Small and Medium Enterprises Guarantee Fund, which seeks to fund smaller local enterprises for the purpose of alleviating regional poverty and promoting intra-regional trade.
The Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) was founded by fifteen West African heads of state upon signing the Treaty of Lagos in May 1975. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. The ECOWAS includes fifteen member states, all in Western Africa, with its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. The total GDP for the ECOWAS is $716.7 billion with a GDP per capita of $2130.4.
The ECOWAS was established for the main purpose of attaining collective self-sufficiency among the ECOWAS member states. The ECOWAS seeks to meet this goal through the integration of all aspects of member states’ economies, including industries such as natural resources, agriculture, and transportation. In order to help facilitate such an ambitious goal, the ECOWAS has established numerous specialized agencies, such as the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), and the ECOWAS infrastructure Projects Preparation and Development Unit (PPDU).
The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), created in 1979, is the main body which seeks to enhance market and trade integration for the ECOWAS member states through the facilitation of the free movement of goods and people throughout the region. Although it originally only applied to agriculture, artisanal, and specialty products, the ETLS extended its reach in 1990 to include industrial products, thus almost entirely encompassing all member states’ exports. However, despite its lofty goals, the ETLS organ of the ECOWAS has suffered due to poor domestication of its protocols in the ECOWAS member states.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was founded in 1996 as the successor of the former Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development, which was founded in 1986. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. The IGAD consists of eight member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Djibouti City, Djibouti. The total GDP of the IGAD is $218.2 billion with a GDP per capita of $874.
While its predecessor focused narrowly on drought-related issues in the Horn of Africa, the IGAD expanded its purpose to promote collective economic development and integration, as well as to achieve food security and environmental protection for its member states. However, the IGAD remains in the early stages of integration and is still in the pre-free trade area phase due to member states’ overlapping memberships with other more advanced and successful REC’s.
Despite its slow pace of progress, the IGAD has made notable strides in promoting regional integration. The IGAD established multiple subsidiary political institutions to meet this end, including the IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), and the IGAD Center for Pastoral and Dryland Development (ICPALD). Additionally, the IGAD has established its Business Forum, an institution created to promote cooperation between all member states’ Chambers of Commerce.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established by the adoption of the SADC Treaty in August 1992. It is the successor of Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC), which was established in April 1980 for the purpose of decreasing member states’ dependence on South Africa. It is one of the eight officially recognized African Regional Economic Communities. The SADC consists of sixteen member states, all in Southern Africa, with its headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. The SADC’s total GDP is $678.8 billion with a GDP per capita of $2,255.2.
Since it extended its reach beyond decreasing dependence on South Africa, the SADC has focused on the self-sufficiency of its member states and the promotion of inter-dependence between member states’ economies and industries as a means of boosting trade within the region. At the moment, SADC’s dispute settlement institution, the SADC Tribunal, is under suspension. The SADC also has eight directorates, each responsible for facilitating a certain sector of the SADC’s goals, including Directorate of Policy, Planning, and Resource Mobility, as well as the Directorate of Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment.
Like many other REC’s, the SADC has encountered issues with trade integration success due to its member states’ overlapping membership with other REC’s. In order to overcome this challenge, the SADC proposed an accelerated timeline for establishing a Customs Union between its member states at its August 2012 Summit. The proposal was accepted in 2013, and steps toward the Custom Union’s establishment were handed to the SADC ministers for supervision and facilitation.
The world’s oldest Customs Union, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) was officially founded in 1910, although it has its roots in the 1889 Customs Union Convention between the Cape of Good Hope, a British colony, and the Orange Free State Boer Republic. Currently, the SACU consists of five member states: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The total GDP of the SACU is $229 billion with a GDP per capita of $102.7.
In its most recent agreement among its member states in 2002, the SACU outlined numerous objectives, including the streamlined movement of goods and people across borders, the integration of member states into the global economy, and the development of member states’ worldwide industrialization and economic competitiveness. In furtherance of these goals, the SACU implemented a common external tariff for all of its member states, equitable sharing of customs revenues, and the investment in transportation infrastructure among and between member states.
As the oldest Custom’s Union in the world, the SACU has had the unique ability to develop its institutions over the course of a century. Thus, as a means of allowing for both trade and market integration, SACU established its own legal framework. This legal framework promotes integration through the development of common industrial policies among its member states, as well as the establishment of a negotiating mechanism to be used in adjudicating unfair trade practices.
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) is a monetary union which was established in 1994 and came into force upon the ratification of the treaty by the same name in 1999. The CEMAC includes six member states: Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Equatorial Guinea, with its administrative center in Libreville, Gabon. The two most dominant states in the CEMAC, Cameroon and Gabon, make up 50 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, of the CEMAC’s total GDP.
As a successor to the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC), the CEMAC included provisions and institutions that the UDEAC lacked, or that it might have executed better. For instance, the CEMAC established a common Court of Justice for its member states, as well as a Parliamentary Assembly. Both bodies were more democratic and transparent in their dealings in order to appeal to a more modern monetary union model. Additionally, while it built upon The UDEAC’s existing structures as a guide, the CEMAC included 4 main complex institutions; the Monetary Union (UMAC), the Economic Union (UEAC), the Parliament, and the Court of Justice, along with other numerous regional bodies.
However, despite its careful planning and logistical organization, the CEMAC has faced significant obstacles in the way of promoting trade integration for its member states. Specifically, because many of the CEMAC member states, such as Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, have focused disproportionately on oil exports and have largely neglected other potential sources of revenue, these states have been forced to seek advances from the Regional Central Bank. Thus, the member states’ dependence on loans, as well as the instability of the oil industry, has inhibited the CEMAC’s ability to effectively promote trade integration.
The West African Economic and Monetary Community (UEMOA) was created in January 1994 by the heads of state of seven of the organization’s eight member states. The first seven founding member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo, were later joined by Guinea-Bissau, the final eighth member, in 1997. The UEMOA’s parent organization is the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS). The UEMOA’s total GDPis $110.54 billion.
Because the member states of the UEMOA are all also member states of the ECOWAS, all ECOWAS trade integrationprocedures and structures exist within them. However, the creation of the UEMOA is important because it has the unique purpose of unifying countries within the ECOWAS which shared a common currency: the CFA Franc. Because the UEMOA was able to successfully implement monetary disciplinary programs, achieved as a result of macroeconomic stability in the region, UEMOA member states have largely avoided complications that come with the often stark fluctuations in the raw materials they export.
In order to further integrate the organization’s trade, the UEMOA has attempted to harmonize its member states’ tariffs and duties. However, although member states all impose a common internal tax, UEMOA has yet to harmonize member states’ external taxes with one another. This lack of consistency, as well as the member states’ tendency not to follow the harmonized internal taxes, causes the UEMOA’s member states’ industries to suffer.
The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) is a collection of Western African countries within the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS). The WAMZ was formed in December 2000 by the Bamako Accord for the purpose of establishing a stable currency to rival the CFA Franc and to be used by Anglophone West African states. There are six WAMZ member states: The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. The eventual goal put forth by the WAMZ will be to merge this new currency with the UEMOA’s CFA Franc so that Western Africa might have a unified, single currency to be used by both Francophone and Anglophone Western Africans.
The Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) was established by the signing of the Agreement of Gisenyi in Rwanda in September 1976. It is a sub-regional organization consisting only of three member states: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda. The primary purposes of the CEPGL are to promote peace and national security for its member states and to facilitate the seamless and streamlined transportation of both goods and people between and among the member states.
The CEPGL, in furtherance of its primary goals, has established four specialized institutions: Development Bank of the Great Lakes Countries (BDEGL), Institute for Agricultural Research and Animal Husbandry (IRAZ), Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries for Energy (EGL), and the International Society for Electricity in the Great Lakes Region (SINELAC).
The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1982. The IOC came into force two years later in 1984 upon the signing of the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles. Member states of the IOC, all island nations located in the Indian Ocean, include Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Reunion.
The purpose of the IOC is to promote sustainable economic growth for these island states which share a similar geography and culture. In order to meet these goals, the IOC, at its 2005 Summit of Head of State, sought to set forth specific goals for the IOC member states to achieve. Specifically, the 2005 Summit mentions commercial cooperation between member states, as well as ensuring the uniformity of all member states’ programs for environmental conservation, so as to preserve the island states’ natural beauty and common culture. The IOC sees these goals as critical tools of integrated ocean management at both the international and regional levels.
The Mano River Union (MRU) was established in October 1973 upon the signing of the Mano River Declaration in Sierra Leone by heads of state of the MRU’s member states. The MRU is named for the river that runs between the two original member states: Liberia and Sierra Leone. Originally, However, two more states, Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire, later joined the MRU in 1980 and 2008, respectively.
The MRU’s purpose is to promote collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, political, and social sectors. Unfortunately, after the onset of the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1991 and the First and Second Liberian Civil Wars, first in 1989 and then in 1999, the MRU fell into dissolution. However, the MRU was revived in May 2004 by the heads of state of three of the MRU member states: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Since the addition of a fourth member state in 2008, the MRU has sought to protect the four countries’ fragile stability through strengthening of the MRU’s institutions and placing special emphasis on the MRU’s goals. Specifically, the MRUseeks to facilitate regional projects and programs created to boost regional and international trade integration, and to maintain regional peace among and between its member states.
The African Economic Community (AEC) was established in June 1991 by thirty-four African heads of state upon the adoption and entry into force of the Abuja Treaty. The purpose of the treaty is to create a framework under which the collective heads of state in the African continent may promote and facilitate the development, utilization, and mobilization of Africa’s resources in order to achieve self-sufficiency and successful trade integration.
There are eight pillars of the AEC, which consist of eight existing REC’s: the AMU/UMA, CENSAD, COMESA, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, and SADC. Instead of overshadowing the existing REC’s across the African continent, the AEC seeks to encourage its member states to strengthen existing REC’s of which they are also members. Thus, these eight smaller REC’s (the AEC’s “building blocks”) are all connected and coordinated to achieve the AEC’s larger goal of trade integration for the entire African continent.
One of the ways in which the AEC has sought to integrate trade throughout the African continent has been to abolish discrimination among and between member states’ economies so that particular nations do not enjoy disproportionate wealth, respective of their economic output. The AEC has implemented several forms of economic integration to achieve this end, such as establishing free trade areas, establishing a common external tariff on goods, and the institution of a common market to destroy barriers to the streamlined flow of goods across member states’ borders. Additionally, the AEC acts as a mechanism through which the member states’ governments may coordinate their efforts in working toward integration as a single unit.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (afCFTA) was established in March 2018 as a framework initiated by member states of the African Union (AU). To date, forty-four countries have signed the afCFTA’s establishing framework, although the afCFTA will not come into force as an active institution of the AU until the ratification of twenty-two AU member states. Thus, the member states of the afCFTA will include those member states of the AU which ratify its provisions.
The AfCFTA’s ambitious purpose includes plans for creating a single market for goods and services across the African continent, as well as a common Customs Union for the free movement of capital across member states’ borders. The AU determined that the creation of the afCFTA would help it achieve some of the AU’s existing goals, such as international and regional trade integration, as well as harmonizing trade and transportation among the member states.
However, the AfCFTA faces the hurdle of overlapping REC membership which weakens overall trade integration and hinders collective economic development. Another obstacle in the way of the implementation of such a wide-ranging REC is the prospect of facilitating cooperation among member states which are all in different stages of trade integration and economic development. However, until the AfCFTA is ratified by twenty-two AU member states, it will not come into force. At the moment, its future remains unknown.
In October 2008, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) entered into negotiations to form the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA), which would at the time become Africa’s largest REC. As a member of the TFTA, COMESA, EAC, and SADC member states actively work in cooperation with other African states and REC’s to promote tariff liberalization and ease of transportation of goods and people across interstate borders. The combined GDP for all twenty-six member states of the TFTA is $1.3 trillion with a population of over 632 million across an area of land nearly twice the size of China.
The creation of the TFTA benefits Africa in numerous ways. Specifically, the creation of such a large REC will spark the creation of a similarly large REC in Western Africa and will facilitate the free flow of goods; a crucial step in maintaining steady economic growth in the region at 6-7% per year. Additionally, the TFTA gives smaller African states the opportunity to become part of a larger economic trade bloc, allowing these smaller nations to become manufacturing hubs, instead of solely producing traditional raw materials. In anticipation of overcoming the road block faced by many previously established REC’s (concerning overlapping memberships in additional REC’s) the TFTA seeks to create a single economic space on the African continent, which would eliminate the problem of competing trade policies and uneven economic development.
The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) was established in 1997 as a pan-Arab free trade zone by fourteen founding member states, including Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, and Sudan, among others which have joined the GAFTA since its inception. Currently there are seventeen member states of the GAFTA.
Promoted as one of the greatest achievements among Arab nations, the GAFTA has reached full trade liberalization of goods among its member states in 2005, which includes the full exemption of customs duties to promote Arab nations’ economic unity and trade integration. The GAFTA also encourages individual member states to remain members of existing regional economic communities and to liberalize trade at their own pace. However, in reality, GAFTA’s success and benefits to member states are disputed. Due to the fact that the GAFTA consists of member states all in widely differing stages of economic development, trade integration among member states has largely remained within the GAFTA’s wealthiest member states.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprised of six oil-exporting member states in the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC, established in 1981, seeks to facilitate and promote economic cooperation and harmony among its members. The combined total GDP for the GCC member states is $1.646 trillion, with a per capita GDP of $34,532.
The GCC member states face distinct challenges, apart from other REC’s in the Middle East and African Continent; although the GCC member states are rich in oil reserves for the time being, the GCC is mostly forward-thinking in its economic programs, as the member states wish to move away from oil dependency and incorporate dependence on other industries. One method implemented to gradually limit the GCC member states’ oil dependency has been to increase education funding so as to attract business and research investment in the region. However, the member states’ heads of state have been hesitant to swiftly or completely overhaul their individual states’ economies out of fear of another Arab Spring. Additionally, motions for the creation of a singular GCC member state currency were proposed, but have since failed due to various member states’ refusal to cooperate.