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 AfCFTA is thus a positive development for Africa as it seeks to advance its own interests through intra-African trade. For a region of the world that contributes to only about 3% of global trade, increasing intra-African trade is a laudable project. For example, while intra-Asia and intra-Europe trade account for 59 per cent and 69 per cent of exports respectively, intra-African trade accounts for only 18 per cent of total exports. However, despite the modest successes at improving intra-African trade through the eight African Union-recognized regional trade agreements on the continent, there are genuine apprehensions regarding the viability of the proposed AfCFTA.