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African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations: WHO is negotiating with WHOM? CEMAC and ECOWAS

African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations: WHO is negotiating with WHOM? CEMAC and ECOWAS
26 Jun 2020

Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)

CEMAC has six member states – Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon with the free movement of goods intra-CEMAC and a common external tariff (CET) levied on imports from outside the common customs area irrespective of the destination market.

All six CEMAC countries are also members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The other ECCAS countries are Angola, Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and São Tomé and Príncipe. A preferential tariff for intra-ECCAS trade has been negotiated, but is not yet being implemented. Accordingly, any imports from other ECCAS countries into CEMAC are still levied the CEMAC CET.

Apart from ECCAS, CAR and Chad are also members of CEN-SAD. However, there are currently no trade arrangement in place among CEN-SAD countries

As a Customs Union with a CET the CEMAC countries will be negotiating together, but Cameroon and CAR have not yet ratified the AfCFTA. Also, CAR, Chad and Equatorial Guinea are beneficiaries of the unilateral preferential market access granted by Morocco.

Although there is overlapping membership with other African RECs all intra-Africa imports from outside CEMAC are levied the MFN applied tariff (CEMAC CET) since there is no trade arrangement among the CENSAD countries and the intra-ECCAS preferential tariff is not yet implemented.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

ECOWAS has 15 member states all of which are part of the ECOWAS FTA with duty-free access for unprocessed goods, traditional handicrafts and certain industrial products of ECOWAS origin. ECOWAS also has a common external tariff (CET) which is levied on imports from outside the ECOWAS region (Cape Verde is currently still in the process of bringing its tariffs in line with the ECOWAS CET).

Of the 15 ECOWAS FTA members, all but Cape Verde, Guinea and Liberia are also members of CEN-SAD, but there is no trade agreement in place among the CENSAD countries. Morocco has FTAs in place with Guinea and Senegal while 11 of the ECOWAS member states are  LDCs granted unilateral preferential access for certain goods to the Moroccan market.

Since ECOWAS has a CET its member states will be negotiating together. However, Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Nigeria have not yet ratified the AfCFTA. What will happen with the unilateral market access Morocco grants to the majority of the ECOWAS countries? There are also the Guinea-Morocco and Senegal-Morocco bilateral trade agreements.

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