Information gathered by Goldstreet Business indicates that the processes involved in the first phase negotiations of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has reached its finalization stage as implementation of the agreement set to begin 1st January 2021.
Top of FormBottom of FormTop of FormBottom of FormPhase one operational instruments include Rules of Origin, which will determine the eligibility of goods to be traded under AfCFTA; modalities such as protection of infant industries; and an online negotiating forum to enable member States to spearhead the success of the policy.
The remaining are an online mechanism for monitoring and eliminating non-tariff barriers; an AfCFTA mobile application for businesses including digital payments system for goods and services; a Pan-African payment and settlement system; and dashboard of the AU Trade Observatory, all of which are expected to enhance the implementation of the agreement.
The implementation of AfCFTA will require Member Countries to liberalize at least 97 per cent of their tariff lines and 90 per cent of imports.
Reports gathered indicate that the AfCFTA Secretariat has begun discussions with Afreximbank for the payment and settlement platforms without any currency convertibility or asking people to go through correspondence bank outside Africa, the Secretary General of AfCFTA, Mr. Wamkele Mene is reported to have said.
As the continent seeks to integrate its market for a common objective to ensure predictability and certainty of the market, industry analyst assert that it is imperative Africa is placed on the value-added economies and eventually implement effectively electronic payments system and intellectual property rights protocol – which the latter is included in the second phase negotiations of the agreement.
This second timeline of the implementation of AfCFTA comes at time the continent is seemingly bracing for a second wave of infections of the novel Coronavirus pandemic that has severely impacted global business trading activities.
Indeed, the zeal of African leaders in finalising the phase one negotiations indicates the readiness of the continent in implementing the world’s largest free trade area in terms of size, with total Gross domestic Products of US$3 Trillion and a population of more than 1.2 million.
It is Africa last opportunity to integrate our Market to ensure predictability and certainty of our market. We need to make sure that we place Africa on the value-added economies and eventually it will get to intellectual property rights and electronic payments.