At the heart of the WTO system is the commitment to the foundational principles of MFN and national treatment. But in a world predicated upon national interest and economic power, the most powerful may not consider multilateral rule-based commitments to be optimal to the achievement of their national interests. One feature of the WTO dispute settlement system is that every Member of the WTO is entitled to have their dispute determined under agreed rules. This is a basic feature of rules-based dispute settlement. The rules, impartially applied, have no regard to the economic power of the parties. The settlement of disputes by recourse to rules of general application yield outcomes that do not depend upon which member is more powerful.
This article contends that premised on being Africa’s major trading partners, economies such as the US, the EU, and China are likely to experience trade diversion when the AfCFTA comes into force. As a result of such potential trade diversion, the implementation of the AfCFTA could be hindered. It is only by addressing the interests of these economies that AfCFTA will foreclose the possibility of a “crisis of implementation”.