African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA): Status Update for Business Stakeholders and the Private Sector

On 21 March 2018, member states of the African Union met and signed the African Continental Free Trade Area. 52 out of 55 countries have signed. 18 ratifications (10 deposited with the AU and 8 have completed the Parliamentary processes). 22 ratifications for the agreement to enter into force.

However, it is important to note that the agreement that was signed is not the complete agreement but rather the skeletal framework outlining general provisions. Specific details on the main aspects that form the agreement and will realize the trading opportunities are still outstanding. These include:

  • Schedule of Tariff Concessions – State parties have yet to develop and submit their schedule of concessions for trade in goods. Parties have agreed to a 90% basket of goods to be liberalised and 10% for sensitive products which are to be liberalised over a longer period.
  • Rules of Origins – Specific details relating to rules of origins have not been concluded. Parties are still to develop and submit their lists of product-specific rules of origin, including goods obtained from Special Economic Zones.
  • Dispute settlement – agreeing to a mechanism for dispute settlement.
  • Secretariat – To adopt the structure, budget, location (country) and organogram of the AfCFTA Secretariat.
  • Services – schedule to be developed and submitted.

Countries to watch when the agreement enters into force:

These are the top ten countries with the highest percentage in intra-African trade (exporters). They are not in any specific order.

Countries Existing Membership of Regional Groups AfCFTA Status Share of Intra-African Exports
1.     South Africa SADC, SACU SADC EPA Ratified 27.63%
2.     Nigeria ECOWAS, CENSAD Did not sign 8.36%
3.     Gabon ECCAS Signed 7.39%
4.     Egypt CENSAD, COMESA Signed 5.73%
5.     Angola ECCAS, SADC Signed 4.53%
6.     Ivory Coast CENSAD, ECOWAS Ratified 3.88%
7.     Zimbabwe SADC, COMESA Signed 3.51%
8.     Tanzania EAC, SADC Did not sign 3.05%
9.     Morocco UMA, CENSAD Signed 3.04%
10.  Kenya EAC, IGAD, COMESA, CENSAD Ratified 2.80%
 
  69.92% Total Trade

Source: African Trade Statistics Yearbook 2017.

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