Germany continues to support the African Continental Free Trade Area

20.05.2019 - Article

Germany, through the GIZ African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Support Programme, has been supporting the AfCFTA from day “1” in various areas of the free trade negotiations, writes the GIZ.

A snapshot of intra-regional trade the world.
A snapshot of intra-regional trade the world.© GIZ

These areas of negotiation include Trade Facilitation, Customs Cooperation and Trade in Services and Stakeholder Engagement.

Even though the AfCFTA has become operative in an incredible short time, there is still a lot of work to be done on the ground. That is why GIZ is supporting the implementation process, especially on a technical level, to insure a successful implementation of the AfCFTA.

After only 3 and a half years of free trade negotiations amongst 55 African countries, Africa will shortly deal with the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The AfCFTA will be operationalised on 30 May 2019, 30 days after Sierra Leone and Sahara Republic deposited the last two necessary ratifications with the African Union for the AfCFTA to legally come into force for the ratifying countries.

The AfCFTA´s ambition, motion and the political momentum has been extraordinary throughout the past few years. The official ceremony and launch of what could be the world’s largest free trade area in terms of participating countries will take place at the upcoming AU Summit in July in Niamey, Niger. Only seven weeks are left to prepare the launch of this quite historic pan-African endeavour.

The idea of the AfCFTA already started in the mid-60s with the origins of Pan-African dreams and hopes of regional integration. Creating more economic development, welfare as well as jobs and employment will not just benefit the African people directly, but also implicitly reduce conflicts and instability in the region. Current intra-African Trade stands at only 17 percent (compared to 69 percent in Europe and 49 percent in Asia) and Africa literally trades more with the rest of the world than with itself.

The AfCFTA tries to tackle many glaring problems of Intra-African trade like the reduction and eventual elimination of high intra-African tariffs and non-tariff barriers, such as cumbersome customs procedures, lengthy waiting hours at borders or unharmonized standards and procedures. It also works on reducing restrictions for trade in services by establishing a standardized and common regulatory framework for services. The AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-African Trade substantially by up to 52 percent with regional markets gradually becoming stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets.


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