The AfCFTA will continue to face a number of risks that threaten to impede continental integration in favour of fragmentation. Of interest to this post are bilateral trade agreements between African countries, individually or in smaller groups, on the one hand, and non-African countries or regions, on the other.
In the specific context of the AfCFTA, (international economic) law is supposed to focus on producing rules designed to promote trade liberalisation by eliminating any constraints that are likely to prevent the flow of capital across the continent and to restrict the growth of business activities well as their expansion across national borders.
The first seeming obstacle to the emergence of a single African market is the contradictions between the stated aims of AfCFTA and some of the principles set out in the AfCFTA Agreement. As noted earlier, AfCFTA’s objectives include creating “a single market” and laying “the foundations for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union”. Yet, one of the principles under Article 5 is “variable geometry”, that is, differentiated integration. Of course, variable geometry was designed to recognise the heterogeneity and diversity in Africa’s economies. However, a single market is not consistent with an a la carte approach, where members integrate at different speeds.
February 4, 2019
The signing of the consolidated text of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March 2018 by 47 African Union member States was a significant milestone. It was the first time since the Abuja Treaty of 1994 that a continental trade agreement had been negotiated. This symposium critically appraises the agenda of the AfCFTA. It kicks off with a post that boldly makes the case why this agreement promises to redress the comparatively low levels of intra-regional trade as well as the dearth of high value exports from Africa.