The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) needs no introduction anymore. It is arguably the African Union’s biggest project since the launch of Agenda 2063 in January 2013, which is our blueprint for sustainable development and economic growth of our Continent.
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There is need for Customs administrations in Africa to evolve from gate-keeping role and enforcement of policies on behalf of other government departments, to being active contributors in the policy-making initiatives. Customs officials involved in manning ports of entry should be involved in assessing the practicality of certain trade measures like Rules of Origin as well as making contribution on how best to enforce the regional trade arrangements. This could involve the relevant trade Ministers involved in the regional negotiations consulting with Customs administrations on the best approach to design the measures that would directly require Customs enforcement.
Although COVID-19 is currently making IAT difficult due to restrictions placed on the movement of people and goods, the pandemic justifies enhanced IAT. The situation helps Africa realize the benefits of IAT due to the trade restrictions put in place by our major trading partners who are mainly outside Africa. Most of all, it will help Africa appreciate the good in initiatives put in place to enhance IAT.
A coordinated African voice on FDI would likely enhance the continent’s global competitiveness, prevent destructive competition among countries, help strengthen Africa’s position in investment agreements, and ultimately result in increased FDI flows to the continent.
The AfCFTA seeks to change the manner in which African states trade with each other. The existence of the AfCFTA is what Roscoe Pound termed using the law as a tool of social engineering. The African Union in creating the AfCFTA intended to promote, facilitate and eventually experience free intra-African trade. This review appreciates the AfCFTA but seeks to criticize a loophole it has created
This new Continental Free Trade bloc is now entrusted with the competence to engage other FTA Blocs such as the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and Association of South Eastern Nations (ASEAN), on trade policy from an Afri-Centric perspective - the essence of Afri-Multilateralism. Hitherto, the various national governments across the Continent had engaged global trade from the prism of nationalistic interests but this new paradigm affords Africa, for the first time, an opportunity to engage on trans-Sahara, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific negotiations on an equal footing, and not under the auspices of 'emerging countries' or LDCs.
Many mainstream discussions on African regional integration focus on the role of the executive, bureaucrats and state institutions (hereafter referred to as state-actors) in facilitating regional integration. While state-actors play crucial roles in enabling regional integration from a “top-down” perspective, concentration on these state-actors inadvertently means that less focus is paid to the non-state actors involved in the process. This article explains that while state-actors do facilitate regional integration from a top-down perspective, non-state actors have the potential to (and in some cases, already do) facilitate regional integration using a “bottom-up” approach.
For the AfCFTA to succeed will require more than its regulatory framework; a supporting framework is also required and this is found in what Douglass North has termed “mental models”. Mental models are the necessary norms and beliefs of policy makers - their perceptions of the world around them.
The creation of a single continental unit is meant to allow the formation of larger economies of scale and enhance the region’s specialization in agricultural and industrial production. However, the reduction or even elimination of tariffs will not be enough to reach the AU’s objective of doubling the existing level of intra-African trade, as significant and continent-specific challenges lie ahead.