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
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.
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