Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Note on the 3rd Meeting of the CFTA-NF


Note on the 3rd Meeting of the CFTA-NF

Note on the 3rd Meeting of the CFTA-NF
Photo credit: DP World

The 3rd meeting of the negotiating forum of the CFTA-Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) was held from the 3rd to 7th of October 2016 at the headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focusing mainly on procedural matters.

There were two main outcomes:

  1. Adoption of the TORs of technical working groups (TWGs) on rules of origin; trade remedies; customs procedures and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; and technical barriers to trade and non-tariff barriers.

  2. Discussion of the draft modalities for tariff negotiations and trade in services negotiations. The discussions built upon the preliminary inputs made by the CFTA-NF during their second meeting held in May 2016. Further work is required on the modalities and the expectation is that the CFTA-NF will meet in late November to review and adopt them.

It will be recalled that the 2nd meeting of the CFTA-NF which was held in May 2016 negotiated the guiding principles, the terms of reference for the TWGs on trade in services and on legal and institutional affairs and exchanged views on the tariff and services modalities.

The inaugural meeting of the CFTA-NF which was held in February 2016 discussed and agreed on the rules of procedures for the negotiating institutions. Those institutions constitute the CFTA-negotiating architecture which is as follows:

  • The CFTA-NF is composed of chief trade negotiators. They adopt mutually agreed positions on negotiating matters for the consideration of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO). The CFTA-NF can also establish technical working groups to support its proceedings;

  • The CSO is composed of Permanent or Principal Secretaries or other top officials of Trade Ministries. They review issues and outcomes adopted by the CFTA-NF and prepare recommendations for the approval of African Ministers of Trade (AMOT); and

  • The AMOT is the highest negotiating institution. They formally adopt the recommendations of the CSO or resolve issues that remain pending.

The next meeting of the CFTA-NF is tentatively scheduled for the end of November.


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