Free Trade Areas

Reflections on Day 1 of the AfIELN Biennial Conference: COVID-19 and International Economic Law: Africa’s Experiences and Responses

This blog piece is a reflection on the core arguments from this conference. Notably, Prof. Arewa explored the broader relationship between Africa and international law governance. Within this general theme, Prof. Arewa discussed the link between copy-and-paste laws, the relationship between internal and external legal perspectives, the importance of measurement systems, the lack of understanding of our legal systems, and Africa's place in the COVID-19 vaccine struggle. This piece will evaluate Prof. Arewa and other speakers' thoughts on how COVID-19 brought Africa's broader problems into light, as well as the measures that could be taken to pivot for effective African solutions. This piece will specifically outline the speakers' views on the place and benefits of regional integration and the emerging digital economy's benefits to Africa. Finally, the piece will conclude by drawing the recommendations made as a way forward for Africa.

Rules of Origin as a Key to the AfCFTA's Success: Lessons that can be Drawn from the Regional Experience

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) holds great promise for the continent with the agreement expected to increase intra-African trade and secure socio-economic benefits for member States. Despite trade under the new agreement commencing on 1 January 2020, members are yet to conclude negotiations on the issue of Rules of Origin (RoO). RoO are mechanisms used to determine the economic nationality of a product. Preferential RoO constitute an essential part of preferential trade arrangements, such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Annex 2 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods makes provision for RoO that will provide for a single set of criteria to be applied across the continent. However, discussions on the substantive RoO, which are to be articulated in Appendix IV of Annex 2, are yet to be finalised. In the meantime, member States are expected to apply the preferential RoO covered by their relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs) until harmonisation is achieved through the AfCFTA’s rules.