Moving the AfCFTA ahead with quick win solutions: AEC2018

13910675296 978f9d24bf zThe objective of AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business people and investment. (Jasmine Halki/Flickr)The African Economic Conference (AEC) has urged the African countries to use the time in the run-up to March 2019, the deadline for ratification, to strengthen their capacity in the legislative and tariff instruments required for the process and other “low hanging fruit” measures

A total of 44 African nations have signed the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) earlier this year, with only 12 out of the required 22 countries ratifying the accord, but policymakers have said that there are time and practical solutions to move the process ahead.

The objective of AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business people and investment.

Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Trade Law Centre, said, “We have learned a lot of lessons. We have a window to build capacity, most implementation is done at the national level, there is a lot that existing (free-trade areas) can bring.”

The signing of AfCFTA, which has the potential to create the largest free trade area in the world, bringing together fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US$3.4 trillion, has also given rise to much debate about the challenges of harmonising disparate tax, fiscal and regulatory regimes as well as the varied socio-political make-up of nations on the continent.

Hartzenburg noted that it would serve as a good time for countries to “take advantage and prepare a comprehensive implementation strategy with detailed work plans.”

“Expectations are high the private sector is waiting. We should not hold back in terms of preparatory work for implementation,” she concluded.

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